This article takes up a comparative reading of Zhang Chengzhi's Islamic fiction Investigation of Assassinations in the Western Province (1989) and Xiao Bai's historical thriller Blockade (2017), arguing that the two terrorism-themed novellas are constituents of world literature in the Age of Terror, an age that features crises of both history and representation. By conceiving world literature as a narrative event born out of the rupture of history, this article analyzes how two Chinese novelists, from the periphery and the center of national subjectivity, aim to act out the dubious complicity between the terrorist and the author. While Zhang's obsession with Jahriyya and extremist violence is entwined with his suspicion of the agency of narrative, Xiao Bai is inclined to consecrate the author as a divine source of explosive imagination, and to disenchant the readers' obsession with the closure of event. A universal claim based on my case study of contemporary Chinese literature thus emerges: placed in a broad continuum of post-9/11 crisis representation, these two novellas bear witness to the performative forces of world literature in rectifying the dominant national historiography and the subalternity of the dispossessed.
“Crouching Terrorist, Lurking Author”: On the Terror Narrative in Zhang Chengzhi's and Xiao Bai's Historical Fiction
hansong dan is Associate Pofessor of English at the School of Foreign Studies, Nanjing University. His research interests include modern/contemporary American novels, 9/11 literature, posthumanism and Digital Humanities. He has authored numerous articles in nationally renowned journals, such as Foreign Literature Review. His articles in English can be found in volumes published by Northwestern University Press and the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities. His book, To Realize the Universal: Allegorical Narrative in Thornton Wilder's Plays and Novels, was published by Peter Lang in 2012. He has translated some works by Thomas Pynchon, Julian Barnes, and Thornton Wilder.
Hansong Dan; “Crouching Terrorist, Lurking Author”: On the Terror Narrative in Zhang Chengzhi's and Xiao Bai's Historical Fiction. Comparative Literature Studies 15 May 2018; 55 (2): 326–344. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.55.2.0326
Download citation file: