Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Philadelphia Noir, hardboiled Philly Fiction

With the Philly Fiction series, Don Ron Books hopes to encourage Philadelphia writers to use Philly as the backdrop to their stories. We love reading short stories set in Philadelphia, so we're delighted with the recent release of Philadelphia Noir, a collection of 15 works of hardboiled fiction, all of which take place in neighborhoods around the city.

The anthology, edited by Inquirer writer Carlin Romano, is part of a series of mystery collections published by New York-based Akashic Books. It features the story "Your Brother, Who Loves You" by author Jim Zervanos, whose piece "Georgie" graced the pages of the first Philly Fiction and whose 2009 Philly-set novel Love Park received rave reviews (including in a post on this blog). (Find out more about Jim and his writing at

Philadelphia has a good pedigree in the field of hardboiled literature. The first part of the 20th century saw bestselling authors such as William P. McGivern, David Goodis, and John McIntyre use Philadelphia as a setting for their hardboiled prose. McGivern's The Big Heat was made into a classic film noir of the same name, while Goodis's Down There was the source material for the French new wave masterpiece Shoot the Piano Player. Even the master of noir, Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man), spent part of his childhood in Philly, though as Philadelphia Noir contributor Duane Swierczynski details on his blog, the stay was fairly brief and left little mark.

We welcome Philadelphia Noir into the growing canon of recent Philly-based fiction releases. Our own new entry, South Philly Fiction, is coming along nicely and should be out before too long. Let's hope the list continues to grow.