detective fiction


detective fiction
(zhentao xiaoshuo)
Detective fiction (zhentan xiaoshuo) presents a mystery, usually the investigation of a murder or other crime by the police. This genre is also called ‘ratiocinative fiction’ (tuili xiashuo). The works of Edgar Allan Poe (1809–49), the father of the detective story, and Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) were translated into Chinese in the early twentieth century. Foreign films about Sherlock Holmes were shown in China in the 1980s. Gong’an xiaoshuo (crimecase fiction), traditional stories about clever magistrates who settle complicated criminal cases in imperial China, also belong to this category. In contemporary China, detective fiction may also be called gong’an xiaoshuo, with an using a different character. The term means ‘public security fiction’, because this type of story dominates magazines run by public security bureaux and other government organs. Serious magazines such as Democracy and Legality (Minzhu yü fazhi) also carry such detective stories, as do many popular literary magazines (e.g. Pecks or Zhuomuniao) for the purposes of education and profit.
The state is wary that the genre reveals too much of the seamy side of society, but Chinese writers may create many stories as long as they are not excessively negative and almost always end with justice served. From corrupt officials to hooligans and rebellious teenagers, much of this popular literature is a combination of love, suspense and crime detection. Since the late 1990s, some works, which would formerly belong to the category of ‘detective fiction’, have been positively relabelled ‘anti-corruption fiction’ (fantan xiaoshuo), as the many economic crimes exposed in these stories are committed by high-ranking officials. Many have been made into films or serial television dramas.
See also: corruption
Kinkley, Jeffrey (1985). The Politics of Detective Fiction in Post-Mao China: Rebirth or Re-extinction?’ The Armchair Detective 18.4 (Fall): 372–8.
——(1993). ‘Chinese Crime Fiction’. Society 30.4 (May/June ): 51–62.
——(2000). The Post-Colonial Detective in People’s China’. In Edward Christian (ed.), The Post-Colonial Detective. New York: St Martin’s Press.
HELEN XIAOYAN WU

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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