The Global Chinese Detective Story
On March 13, 2018, Professor Jeffrey C. Kinkley, recently retired from St. John’s University and now affiliated with Portland State University, spoke at the UBC Centre for Chinese Research about a growing publishing trend: detective and crime novels set in China but written outside of China, typically in English, and not always by authors of Chinese origin. Professor Kinkley surveyed the works of authors such as Lisa See, Michel Imbert (who writes as Mi Jianxiu), Peter May, Chris West, and a dozen other novelists whose uncensored detective novels set in China use murder mysteries to explore broader Chinese social problems. He noted that such novels have sold over two million copies worldwide, thanks not least to the popularity of Qiu Xiaolong. Professor Kinkley argued that a global discourse is at work, beyond the usual diasporic, expat, Sinophone, Anglophone, cultural identity, and Orientalist paradigms. In conjunction with his CCR talk, Professor Kinkley also gave a lecture about the history of Chinese crime fiction to over sixty students in Professor Christopher Rea’s modern Chinese literature course.