By Barbara Bibel
Editor Wishnia offers readers a first-rate collection of short stories dealing with traditional noir subject matter and tone but offering Jewish variations on the theme. His introduction argues that noir’s origins reach back to the Hebrew Bible, citing Moses and Job as essential noir heroes. The stories deal with a variety of familiar topics but bring the noir perspective to bear on each: assimilation and adjustment to a new land, ethnic identity, sexism and gender roles, the Holocaust and its aftermath, the state of Israel, religious alienation, and, of course, anti-Semitism. Contributors, some Jewish and some Gentile, include S. J. Rozan, David Liss, Gary Phillips, Harlan Ellison, and Marge Piercy. Among the highlights are David Liss’ “Jewish Easter” and Ellison’s “Final Shtick,” both of which deal with anti-Semitic bullying in small towns; Wishnia’s original translation of Yente Serdastky’s “A Simche,” which expresses the frustration of an intelligent female immigrant in early twentieth-century New York; and Jason Starr’s “All Other Nights,” about child sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. A fine anthology, true to both the noir frame and the Jewish theme.