Today is release day for Witnesses for the Dead from Soho Press, edited by Gary Phillips and Gar Anthony Haywood. I’m so excited to be a part of this stellar line-up of authors. All proceeds go to The Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops.
The premise is inspired by people who witness crimes and do something about it, most notably Darnella Frazier, the seventeen-year-old girl who recorded George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin.
My story “A Family Matter” takes a look at the complicated politics in Taiwan when Vanessa Chu witnesses a stranger’s murder while staying at her father’s home in Taichung. Just before I wrote this story, I had been reading about a bookstore owner who fled Hong Kong during the mass protests in 2019 and opened his store in Taipei. Four days before he was to open his store, unknown assailants threw red paint on him while he sat outside at a cafe. Three men were later arrested. They were upset by the bookstore’s commitment to disseminating democratic ideals and free speech. I was struck by how the bookstore owner wasn’t concerned for his own safety but for the safety of those who helped him open the store.
Here’s the full description of the book:
How does witnessing a crime change a person? This powerful collection of stories by a star-studded roster of contributors examines this very question, with proceeds benefitting the Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops.
Inspired by recent true events, the all-original stories in Witnesses for the Dead are set in motion by the act of witnessing. The characters who populate these pages are not themselves the perpetrators of the crimes they see, but as they grapple with what to do—take action or retreat into the shadows—their lives are indelibly changed.
In “Envy” by Christopher Chambers, a sweet, shy wallflower looks on as something horrific happens in his neighborhood—revealing something horrific about himself. Agatha Award–winner Richie Narvaez’s “The Gardener of Roses” sees a Puertorriqueña college student on the run from the FBI for her accidental involvement in a “terrorist” plot. Anthony Award–winner Gary Phillips confronts police corruption in “Spiders and Fly.” And the protagonist of “A Family Matter” by IPPY Award–winner Sarah M. Chen investigates the murder of a stranger, leading her to question the political structure of Taiwan entirely. Other stories feature a brothel, the film industry, immigrant detention centers at the Mexico-US border, World War II–torn France, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The stories are incisive, unflinching, wry, dark, and, in some cases, terrifying. You’ll ask yourself: If I saw what they saw, what would I do?
Edited by Anthony Award–winner Gary Phillips and Shamus Award–winner Gar Anthony Haywood, the collection includes contributions from NAACP Image Award–winner Pamela Samuels Young, New York Times bestsellers Cara Black and Tod Goldberg, Edgar Award–winner SJ Rozan, Agatha Award–winner Richie Narvaez, and more.
Pick up a copy at the following links!