Tag Archives: John Burdett

Writing noir fiction in Asia

Late last week in Phnom Penh a book was launched that I’m very proud to have a story in.

It’s called Phnom Penh Noir, an anthology of 14 noir stories set in Cambodia. Amongst the authors are Roland Joffe, the director whose credits include the 1984 film The Killing Fields, John Burdett, author of the Sonchai Jitpleecheep series and Christopher G Moore, who also edited the book. Interestingly, there’s also stories by Khmer and Thai authors.

If you’re looking for an interesting take on noir fiction, I’d urge you to check this book out.

I’ve noticed a bit of interest lately around the idea of setting noir crime fiction in Asia.

My debut novel Ghost Money is set in Cambodia the mid-nineties, the point at which the long-running Khmer Rouge insurgency started to fragment and the country was torn by political instability. It’s been out for several months now and nearly everyone who has reviewed it has labelled it noir fiction. Which is very fine with me.  As I noted in my last post, some have even dubbed it Asian noir, which sounds even cooler. 

Ghost Money is the story of a disillusioned Vietnamese Australian ex-cop called Max Quinlan, who is hired to find an Australian businessman, Charles Avery, missing in the chaos.… Read more

Bangkok Noir?

Having lived in Bangkok in the mid-nineties and visited the city many times, I can only concur with Christopher G Moore that the new anthology he has edited, Bangkok Noir, is overdue.

I’ve long lamented to anyone who’ll listen that writers do not make more of Asia as a setting for crime fiction. Thailand is no exception. Things happen there every day, fantastic and awful that you simply could not make up if you tried.

Of the many noir anthologies to hit the shelves in recent years, only one other is set in Asia, Dehli Noir. To add to the allure of Bangkok Noir, two of the 12 stories are by Thai authors, although women don’t figure at all which is a bizarre omission.

The major question I have in relation to the anthology is whether it’s actually noir.

There’s a time to get picky about the definition of ‘noir’. I reckon when someone includes the word in the title of their book and there’s every indication that book will be the first of a series, that time is now.

Moore deals with the question of what is noir in the preface to the anthology and in a post he wrote here in late March for the website International Crime Authors Reality Check.

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