The Mysterious Bookshop

Abdoh, Salar, Tehran Noir

Publishers Weekly
08/25/2014
This entry in Akashic’s noir series takes the gritty sensibilities born out of American film and fiction to Tehran. When you encounter the sentence “I’d been to my share of rough teahouses” in Vali Khalili’s “Fear Is the Best Keeper of Secrets,” you’ll know that you’re no longer in noir’s home environs. Still, even in Tehran the genre reveals the same venalities, faults, and occasional nobility of humanity. The 15 stories contain much that’s bleak, tawdry, or outright crude, with the rape of a mullah with a shovel handle in Majed Neisi’s “The Corpse Fixer” being the most extreme example. Yourik Karim-Masihi’s “Bridge of Simon” is a quiet tragedy, while Hossein Abkenar’s “Not Every Bullet Is Meant for a King” is a kaleidoscopic tale of lives on a collision course. In his introduction, Abdoh characterizes Tehran as “a juxtaposition of ugliness and beauty that breaks the heart,” which has “something of both the absolutely spectacular and positively disgraceful” about it.