Dislocation and Disconnection in Post-1970s Crime Fiction

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Sarah MOORE, University of Bath, United Kingdom
Post-1970s crime fiction offers an insight into the various strains on social belonging in the twenty-first century. This group of novels show, in piercing detail, the consequences of not fitting in, the role of institutions in binding and separating us, the situations that force people to retreat from social life (and the precariousness therein), and the ambivalent work of social integration. What makes these social situations appear especially dangerous is the pervasive sense that there is no reliable, benevolent source of safety. There is, in the twenty-first century crime novel, a startling absence of opportunity to change or move, and an abnegation of responsibility on the part of social authorities to care and protect. Such things are etched into the world of the contemporary crime novel. It’s there in the desolate small town of a Karin Fossum novel, as well as the sprawling, decentered Glasgow of Malcolm McKay’s books, the eerily evacuated housing estates of Tana French’s later stories, and the split-city of Belfast in Adrian McKinty’s novels, full of no-go zones and ungovernable spaces. This fiction captures the effects of late capitalism, most strikingly the desolation of shared, civic space and the related proliferation of unjuridified spaces, both physical and virtual. The inefficiency of the state and its administrative agencies in protecting its citizens serves as an important backdrop to this. In sketching-out this — our — social world, twenty-first century crime fiction poses a pressing question: what happens to the individual when there is no where to run, no one to run to, and the thing one is running from is amorphous and inscrutable? This paper takes up this question and considers what contemporary crime fiction can tell us about the pathological effects of late capitalism in producing a sense of dislocation and disconnection.