Jessica Hagedorn's edgy and entertaining new novel centers on the lives of two women who are neighbors in Manhattan's West Village. Mimi Smith is a filmmaker of low-budget slasher movies in search of new material. Her neighbor Eleanor Delacroix is a legendary writer of erotic fiction, now nearing eighty and addicted to cocaine and gin. Their personal and artistic lives begin to collide in unexpected ways as Eleanor grieves over the recent death of her live-in lover, the renowned painter Yvonne Wilder, and as Mimi deals with the challenges presented by her newly sober brother Carmelo; her drug-dealing boyfriend, who has mysteriously disappeared; and her wayward fourteen-year-old daughter, Violet. Looming over all these characters is the ghost of Agnes-an "illegal" and cousin of Mimi's who might have been murdered by her New Jersey employers. Toxicology is a dark yet playful exploration of money, desire, mortality, and the connection between creativity and self-destruction.
Jessica Hagedorn is a performance artist, poet, novelist and playwright, born and raised in the Philippines. Her novels include Dogeaters (Penguin 1990) which was nominated for a National Book Award and The Gangster of Love (Penguin 1996); a short story collection, Danger and Beauty (City Lights 2002).
Dogeaters follows a diverse set of characters through Manila, each exemplifying the country’s sharp distinctions between social classes. Celebrated novelist and playwright Jessica Hagedorn effortlessly shifts from the capital’s elite to the poorest of the poor. From the country’s president and first lady to an idealist reformer, from actors and radio DJs to prostitutes, seemingly unrelated lives become intertwined.
"While certain cities in past Akashic volumes might appear to lack an obvious noir element, Manila (like Mexico City, which shares many of the same problems) practically defines it, as shown by the 14 selections in this excellent anthology. As Hagedorn points out in her insightful introduction, Manila is a city burdened with a violent and painful past, with a long heritage of foreign occupation. The specters of WWII (during which the city suffered from U.S. saturation bombing), and the oppressive 20-year reign of dictator Ferdinand Marcos live on in recent memory. The Filipino take on noir includes a liberal dose of the gothic and supernatural, with disappearance and loss being constants."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"For those who love travel, history, and a little bit of lore, this anthology transports you to the Philippines and is filled with riveting and sometimes dark stories of the capital city."
--Glamour (Summer Reading pick)
"Suffice it to say that what the Noir series in general, and Manila Noir in particular, does so well is to create a 360-degree mosaic of a place...By including so many perspectives, from so many walks of life, Manila Noir makes Manila seem as vibrant, and dangerous, and exciting, and confounding as it really felt to live there."
"A collection of stories like Akashic's forthcoming Manila Noir is enough to set a crime-fiction addict's mouth watering."
--New York Observer
Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.
Brand-new stories by: Lourd De Veyra, Gina Apostol, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, F.H. Batacan, Jose Dalisay Jr., Eric Gamalinda, Jessica Hagedorn, Angelo Lacuesta, R. Zamora Linmark, Rosario Cruz-Lucero, Sabina Murray, Jonas Vitman, Marianne Villanueva, and Lysley Tenorio.
From the introduction by Jessica Hagedorn:
"Manila's a city of survivors, schemers, and dreamers...A city of extremes. Where the rich live in posh enclaves, guarded by men with guns. Where the poor improvise homes out of wood, tin, and cardboard and live by their wits. Where five-star hotels and luxury malls selling Prada and Louis Vuitton coexist with toxic garbage dumps and sprawling 'informal settlements' (a.k.a. squatter settlements), where religious zeal coexists with superstition, where 'hospitality' might be another word for prostitution, where sports and show business can be the first step to politics, where politics can be synonymous with nepotism, cronyism, and corruption, where violence is nothing out of the ordinary, and pretty much anything can be had for a price--if you have the money and/or the connections, that is...
As you will see from this steamy collection of stories, all these delicious contradictions serve to enrich and expand our concept of noir. What you will also find are the noir essentials: alienated and desperate characters, terse dialogue, sudden violence, betrayals left and right...All the fabulous and fearless writers gathered here have a deep connection and abiding love for this crazy-making, intoxicating city. There's nothing like it in the world, and they know it."