Postcolonial Postmortems: Crime Fiction from a Transcultural Perspective

Postcolonial Postmortems: Crime Fiction from a Transcultural Perspective

Postcolonial Postmortems: Crime Fiction from a Transcultural Perspective

Postcolonial Postmortems: Crime Fiction from a Transcultural Perspective


Recent crime fiction increasingly transcends national boundaries, with investigators operating across countries and continents. Frequently, the detective is a migrant or comes from a transcultural background. To solve the crime, the investigator is called upon to decipher the meaning(s) hidden in clues and testimonies that require transcultural forms of understanding. For the reader, the investigation discloses new interpretive methods and processes of social investigation, often challenging facile interpretations of the postcolonial world order. Under the rubric 'postcolonial postmortems', this collection of essays seeks to explore the tropes, issues and themes that characterise this emergent form of crime fiction. But what does the 'postcolonial' bring to the genre apart from the well-known, and valid, discourses of resistance, subversion and ethnicity? And why 'postmortems'?


Christine Matzke and Susanne Mühleisen

Introduction: the 'Anatomy' of Crime Writing

Crime fiction has been one of the most prolific literary genres in the last 150 years and continues to be so, as a glance at any bookshop, bestseller book list, or the reading matter of fellow passengers on trains, tubes and buses will confirm. However, 'the study of the genre', as Stephen Knight has recently pointed out, is a little 'harder to detect', though by no means as obscure and marginal as it used to be. the very popularity and mass appeal of crime fiction initially made it an unlikely subject for scholarly pursuit, except for the critical musings of early writers and some of their acolytes in their attempt 'to justify their writing and reading habits'. It was in the 1960s and 1970s that a wealth of academic literature began to emerge on the history and typology of the genre, later also on ideological frameworks and the social contexts in which they were placed. Today, research on

Stephen Knight, Crime Fiction, 1800–2000: Detection, Death, Diversity (London:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. x.

Heta Pyrhönen, Murder from an Academic Angle: An Introduction to the Study of
the Detective Narrative
(Columbia: Camden House, 1994), p. 4.

See, for instance, Tzvetan Todorov, 'The Typology of Detective Fiction [1966]',
trans. by Richard Howard, in Modern Criticism and Theory: a Reader, ed. by
David Lodge and Nigel Wood, 2 edn (London: Longman, 2000), pp. 137–144;
Julian Symons, Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel: A
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974); Jochen Vogt, ed., Der Kriminalroman:
Zur Theorie und Geschichte einer Gattung
, 2 vols (Munich: Fink, 1971).

Especially in the early 1980s, with groundbreaking studies like Stephen Knight,
Form and Ideology in Crime Fiction (London: Macmillan, 1980) or Dennis
Porter, The Pursuit of Crime: Art and Ideology in Detective Fiction (New Haven:

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.