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Contemporary Writing and the Politics of Space

Borders, Networks, Escape Lines


Edited By David Walton and Juan Antonio Suárez

This collective volume explores questions of space in contemporary literary texts from a range of theoretical perspectives. In addition to mapping the «spatial turn» in literary and cultural studies, this volume also brings together studies that apply spatial theory to the analysis of literary texts. Contributors tackle a broad range of themes, including how prose fiction addresses spaces of intimacy, abjection, espionage, discipline, madness, post-human identities, post-communist cities, the architecture of dystopia, and coercive medical practices. In turn, these themes open up analysis to key areas within contemporary literary and cultural criticism, including the study of sexuality, politics, power, and identity; the configuration of urban, regional, and national spaces and borders; and the delineation of private and public domains. The contributors reflect on diverse authors from English-speaking cultures and focus on a variety of genres and periods while acknowledging recent research in space studies and offering original contributions to what has now become a thriving field.

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8 They Aren’t the Big Bad Communists We Were Raised to Think They Were? The Representation of Russia in Contemporary Crime Fiction and Thrillers (Isabel Santaularia I Capdevila)


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8    They Aren’t the Big Bad Communists We Were Raised to Think They Were? The Representation of Russia in Contemporary Crime Fiction and Thrillers


This chapter analyses some contemporary thrillers and crime narratives set in Russia written in English in order to investigate how they perpetuate a negative vision of the country, which is depicted as a monstrous space, far more abhorrent than the crimes investigated by the protagonists. The chapter aims at demonstrating that, even though the authors shy away from drawing comparisons with a supposedly better West, and, thus, do not overtly celebrate Western exceptionalism, they still resort to strategies intended to demonize Russia and anchor its contemporary deficiencies to the country’s revolutionary and communist past. By turning Russia into a gothic landscape, in fact, these texts offer meaningful, if dated, conceptions of space that ultimately guarantee the superiority of the West.

Introduction: The Representation of Russia in Crime Fiction and Thrillers

The representation of foreign settings in crime fiction and thrillers written in English has seldom been innocent. Authors who situate their stories in foreign lands may simply be trying to find a niche in the very crowded crime fiction scene by adding the mystery of the outré to the crime being investigated by the protagonist and targeting armchair travellers craving for lurid descriptions of exotic locales. However, and simultaneously, these stories often reinforce political and cultural prejudices...

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