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Akashic Books couldn't have been more timely with the release of the the two latest books in their city noir series. West Jerusalem Noir edited by Maayan Eitan and East Jerusalem Noir edited by Rawya Jarjoura Burgara take on the historic city divided by a wall and and shows us two different ways of life in two different anthologies. It gives a people living next to each other yet very much apart.

Jerusalem Noir shows a wider range of stories and different tones. Many deal with family. Asaf Schur follows a father's attempt to cover up his daughters hit and run in "Chrysanthemums". There are explorations of Jewish identity like "Dos Is Night a Khuzir" by Eamanuuel Yitchak Levi and Guli Dolev-Hashiloni and Yaara Shehor's "Seven Ways To Make A Jewish Stuffed Fish". Liat Elkayam delivers a comic mystery involving a robe wearing slacker and phobic weed dealer and The Sam Spiegel Film and Television School. In "Great Bunch Of Guys", Yitach Ashkanazi takes us in the day of an Israeli soldier at the Hizim Checkpoint.

Those soldiers are a common occurrence in East Jerusalem Noir. Rahaf Al-Sarad's "An Extraordinary City"looks at the relationship a couple have with their home that is to be blown up because it is deemed too close to the wall. In "Between Two Jerusalems", Osama Alyasap uses a microcosm of different citizens to get different perspectives of the city. A suffering man must maneuver through the Kafkaesque health care system to survive in Majid Abu Ghosh's "This Is Jerusalem". Ziad Khadish gives a a history lesson as well as an exciting chase through the alleys of The Ancient City as his protagonists are "Fleeing from the Assyrian Soldiers". In these and other stories, the noir tone is created through the claustrophobia of oppression.

I had a relatively set opinion about the Israeli-Palestine issue before picking up these books. I read them intertwined, bouncing back from collection to collection. While not giving me a new opinion, it made me realize how small mine was. Noir often deals with identity and the Akashic series explores the genre through place. It couldn't be a better fit for a place where the citizens have tied their identity to what they call home.


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