- Faith & Family
Jamaican-born award-winning writer Colin Channer has hit pay dirt with an anthology of short fiction by authors from his native country — just in time for the celebration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of freedom. It’s the second Akashic Books anthology edited by Channer, 49, who has been hailed as “one of the Caribbean Diaspora’s finest writers. But one question readers may have is “what exactly is ‘noir’ writing?”
“The genre emerged out of detective stories from the 1950s and what you find are characters driven by dark emotions,” Channer said. “It’s about people that do bad things, and each story is filled with mystery and suspense —that’s why they are so entertaining. When we go the movies, we are often drawn to the bad boys and girls in the film. Kingston Noir looks at bad boys and girls too but as each story unfolds we get some insight as to how life often works.”
Words paint pictures of Jamaica’s beauty
Channer was born in Jamaica and moved to New York City when he was 19. All of the writers, except two, were also born in Jamaica.
“Each of us has a foot in more than one community and country for different reasons: economics, family or even due to self-imposed exile,” he said. “Kingston is a beautiful city — a drop-dead beautiful city — but it can also be a tough and dangerous place to live. We have a range of social classes and it’s the largest English speaking city south of Miami. But it’s located in a part of the world where Spanish and French are the dominant languages. And it’s the home of reggae music. What Detroit is to R&B, Memphis is to soul and New Orleans is to jazz, Kingston is to reggae. And our cultural influence has been projected around the world.”
Channer notes that intolerance is one of the challenges facing his country which is why he says he wanted to include several stories that spoke to this ongoing problem.
“Some of the contributors are passionate and outspoken about gay rights and their voices had to be heard if we are to ever change Jamaica’s current oppressive stance,” he said. “I could not produce a book in 2012 with stories about life in Kingston and not acknowledge the wide diversity of communities.”
Besides a story and introduction penned by Channer, other pieces were written by: Thomas Glave, Marlon James, Kwame Dawes, Kei Miller, Marcia Douglas, Christopher John Farley, Patricia Powell, Leone Ross, Nigerian-born Chris Abani and British writer Ian Thomson.
“With the success that Jamaica has had in the recent Olympics, the world is hungry to learn more about our country,” he said. “This is the perfect time for the release of Kingston Noir.”
By D. Kevin McNeir