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Delhi Noir

edited by Hirsh Sawhney
Akashic Books, 2009

In the news

Publishers Weekly gives Delhi Noir a starred review
"[Delhi Noir] will register simultaneously as a shock, an education and an entertainment. All 14 stories are briskly paced, beautifully written and populated by vivid, original characters... Few books can alter one's perception about the state of a society, but this does, while delivering noir that's first-class in any light".

Outlook Traveller, February 2010
Finally, we have a book of stories set in Delhi that does not focus on the romance of its bygone times, its ruins or its tryst with the Raj... [Delhi Noir is] interesting and diverse, stretching to dark dystopian brooding as well as happy-ending escapist fantasies... [T]his is an en-grossing and enjoyable encounter with the darker side of Delhi.

Hindustan Times, January 2010
[A]ll the writers have produced well-plotted, well-crafted tales. I was engaged by the editor's selection of stories that explore the diverse physical and cultural geographies which make up the city.--Pratik Kanjilal

The TLS on DELHI NOIR, December 2009
The appeal of noir is that it makes danger enjoyably safe: reading from the comfort of one's armchair, and protected by the literary safety net of familiar tropes. In reading these stories, however, one feels that the net has been cut, as the writing veers into something more disturbing. There is a rawness in the writers' engagement with brutality... [This] is a collection which, in all its macabre desolation, conjures a world capital and makes an argument about the effects of extreme inequality and injustice in a gargantuan city.
Read the full review here.

The Times of India, December 2009
"The award-winning attempts of writers like Aravind Adiga, who underlined the ugliness that shadows the India Rising story, find an echo in this collection of stories. Hirsh Sawhney has brought together Indian and Indian-origin writers to tell hard-hitting tales about Delhi's underbelly... The stories are true to the spirit of this ancient city - now aspiring to be a world citywhich can in turn be malicious , unforgiving and ruthless..."

The Independent's Boyd Tonkin on Delhi Noir, November 2009
"Moving between districts of the ever-expanding but still uncool metropolis Mumbai and Kolkata boast much more artsy cachet this fearless crew enlist the motifs of hard-boiled crime to capture what editor Hirsh Sawhney calls the "inequality and cruelty" that disfigures the capital's gallop for growth. From the old-city labyrinth of Paharganj to the nouveau-riche suburb of Green Park and the spooky wastelands of the Ridge, encounters with crooked cops who steal, beat and kill bring into grim or farcical focus the uncivil lines of cash and clout that divide heroes from zeroes in the Indian boom." Read the full review here.

An interview with Delhi Noir editor Hirsh Sawhney in Time Out Delhi, November 2009
"For Delhi residents, few collections of short fiction have been as eagerly awaited as this one." Read the interview here.

The Guardian on Delhi Noir, October 2009
"The city unfolds like a fever dream...Hirsh Sawhney's anthology resounds with the everyday conflict of this metropolis--the uncomfortable rub between extremes of poverty and wealth, ancient religious strife and corporate imperialism. Irwin Allan Sealey brings vigilante rickshaw driver
Baba Ganoush to life, Meera Nair tenderly describes a teenage tout, and Hartosh Singh Bal's naive journalist learns some hard truths. Other highlights include the editor's own "Gautam Under a Tree", and the "Cull", by Manjula Padmanabhan, which offers a disturbing premonition of a fascistic future India."

Mint's Himanshu Bhagat on Delhi Noir, October 2009

Rain Taxi, Fall 2009
"[V]icious and poignant... Delhi Noir is an invigorating and often moving collection. And amidst all that violence and depravity, readers might detect some undertones of optimism, thanks to the muckraking journalists who inhabit many of these stories. Their city may suffer from institutional corruption and systemic inequality, but it's also awash in newspapers. In Delhi, writers matter, and the contributors to this volume know it."

The San Francisco Chronicle reviews Delhi Noir, August 2009
"Delhi Noir has no lack of true-to-life characters getting twisted, mangled and discarded. Which is why, like the proverbial train wreck, even as you cringe, you won't be able to look away." Read the entire review here:

Nina Sankovitch, Read All day, August 2009
"Delhi Noir... delivers great noir short stories, every single one by an author new to me and now newly installed in my personal pantheon of exciting writers... The writing is consistently good in these stories, the characters unique and unforgettable and the settings evoked subtly but thoroughly." Read the entire review here:

The International Noir Fiction blogs about Delhi Noir, August 2009
"...the book reads almost like an episodic novel rather than a collection... get this collection asap, whether you're interested in India, international noir, crime fiction, or just good writing."

Wisconsin Publish Radio's Here On Earth interviews Delhi Noir editor Hirsh Sawhney. Listen to "Tracking the Global Gumshoe".

The New York Post designates Delhi Noir "Required Reading," August 2009

The New York Daily News on Delhi Noir, August 2009
"Bleak, you bet. Fascinating, no question."

The Lead Miami Beach on Delhi Noir, August 2009
"Deliciously illicit... spilled with offhand brilliance..."

The Man Asian Prize, July 2009
Delhi Noir Contributors Omair Ahmad and Siddharth Chowdhury are nominated to the 2009 Man Asian Prize Shortlist.

The Toronto Globe and Mail on Delhi Noir, July 2009
"Hirsh Sawnhey's intelligent introductory essay is more than enough reason to buy this fine collection of short fiction... Those who like to live a little dangerously... will love Siddharth Chowdhury's crazed and profane trip into life in a Delhi university dorm."

The San Francisco Chronicle makes Delhi Noir a Top Shelf Recommended Read, July 2009

Mohan Sikka's Delhi Noir story "Railway Aunty" featured in the July issue of Brooklyn Rail

Delhi Noir is the #1 best-seling book at Manhattan's Idlewild Books during the month of June 2009

Amitava Kumar blogs about Delhi Noir, June 2009
"This is a book that I recommend highly..."

The New Yorker on Delhi Noir, June 2009

An interview with Delhi Noir editor Hirsh Sawhney in Tehelka, June 2009
See Noir Evil, Hear Noir Evil

The Indian Express on Delhi literature and Delhi Noir, June 2009
"Ever since Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children exploded onto the literary stage in 1981, Bombay has been the Indian city that has captured the imagination of most writers... And now, it seems it is Delhi's turn to have its place in the sun. A spate of books now point to a firm trend which make Delhi its muse, the most prominent being Delhi Noir..."
Read the rest of the article here.

Delhi Noir reviewed in Booklist, May 2009
"The latest offering in Akashic's international noir series takes readers to the dangerous and alluring capital city of India... [These stories] retain a strong sense of placethe reader never loses sight of the contemporary Indian setting. The collection is also notable for polished writing and strongly plotted stories, making it one of the most consistent in [Akashic's award-winning noir] series."

Delhi Noir's Rubin Museum launch covered on WNYC radio, June 2009
"The success of Slumdog Millionaire focused attention on the "new" India a land of capitalist opportunity and capricious bounty. But the latest entry in Akashic Books' noir crime fiction series, Delhi Noir, presents a grittier picture, exposing the underbelly of India's sprawling capital in stories that also reflect the influence of mystery's masters, such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler."
Read more and listen to Ajay Naidu reading excerpts from Delhi Noir at

Lit blogger King Rat reviews Delhi Noir
"I've only read a small handful of crime fiction anthologies... but Delhi Noir is easily the best one I've ever cracked open... Sawhney's selections consistently turn out good. I liked every single story in the book. Every single one. Delhi did indeed turn out to be good setting for noir."
Read his full review here.

Delhi Noir discussed in Mint, April 2009

Delhi Noir featured in Library Journal, February 2009

The contributors

Irwin Allan Sealy, Omair Ahmad, Radhika Jha, Ruchir Joshi, Nalinaksha Bhattacharya, Meera Nair, Siddharth Chowdhury, Mohan Sikka, Palash K. Mehrotra, Hartosh Singh Bal, Hirsh Sawhney, Tabish Khair, Uday Prakash (Trans. Jason Grunebaum), and Manjula Padmanabhan.

The publisher's blurb

The eyes of the world are gazing at India--the world's largest democracy. But the books you read about this Asian giant only show part of the picture. Delhi Noir offers bone-chilling, mesmerizing takes on the country's chaotic capital, a city where opulence and poverty are constantly clashing, where old-world values and the information age wage a constant battle.

Delhi Noir's fourteen original stories are written by the best Indian writers alive today--the ones you haven't yet heard of but should have. They are veteran authors who have appeared on the Booker Prize short list and budding geniuses who your grandchildren will read about in English class. Delhi Noir is a world of sex in parks, male prostitution, and vigilante rickshaw drivers. It is one plagued by religious riots, soulless corporate dons, and murderous servants. This is India uncut, the one you're missing out on because mainstream publishing houses and glossy magazines can't stomach it.

About the Akashic Noir series

Launched by the summer '04 award-winning, best-seller Brooklyn Noir, Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies. Each book is comprised of all-new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. Series editors include Dennis Lehane, Edwidge Danticat, Paco Taibo II, Lawrence Block, George Pelecanos, and Altaf Tyrewala.


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