What is neo-noir fiction? It’s contemporary dark fiction. It was built on the backbone of classic noir and hardboiled fiction, but it’s evolved to be so much more than that. It is a genre-bending subgenre that includes edgy literary fiction, as well as fantasy, science fiction, and horror. It also touches on niche storytelling like magical realism, slipstream, transgressive, and the grotesque. There is a movement out there, right now, one that has been heating up over the last ten years, the most recent installment of which, Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon, comes out next week. Here are some of the names you need to know.
Quite possibly the best-selling author of neo-noir fiction, you may recognize the work of Dennis Lehane from the films that have sprung from his novels: Gone, Baby, Gone and Shutter Island, as well as Mystic River. His work builds on the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary situations — abductions, murder, and slips in reality. Lehane has mass appeal, writing novels that are easy to digest, but complicated in their layers of imagery, plot, and depictions of the truth. His latest novel is Live By Night, which asks the question, “Can a man be a good mobster and a good person at the same time?” These are the dilemmas Lehane creates, pushing back against the temptations of the night.