“‘This Is Getting a Little Too Chinese for Me’: The Representation of China in Crime Fiction Written in English”

Isabel Santaulària i Capdevila

Abstract


The article addresses the representation of China in contemporary crime fiction written in English. A close examination of a selection of works set in China by Lisa See, Peter May, Catherine Sampson, Lisa Brackmann and Duncan Jepson reveals that, following the hardboiled tradition and crime fictions produced in post-colonial times, these narratives scrutinize the West’s many deficiencies. However, the authors do not articulate a truly postcolonial discourse aimed at destabilizing the notion of the assumed superiority of the West and its right to intrude in other countries’ affairs. Furthermore, these narratives seem to be written to confirm the readers’ worst expectations about China, which is fated to stay poor, backward and ultimately Other, unable to achieve some degree of ‘normalization’ or Westernization that could legitimize China’s claims to modernity, improvement and ascendancy in our global economy. Thus, as we vicariously travel the country through these narratives, we face the usual array of fraudsters, tricksters and blood-thirsty murderers that populate crime fictions, but it is China itself that is singled out as the true monster of the stories.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1344/co20162067-82

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