The concrete midden : the qualia of crime

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2009
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- The Qualia of Crime: how authentic events offer new ways of reading society through crime novels. In this exegesis I analyse examples of popular crime fiction that incorporate authentic events into their narratives in ways that prompt both political and emotional responses from their readers. I argue that those novels which achieve this synergy of emotional and political response do so through the use of qualia; the literary expression of personal feelings to generate a shared subjective experience of the events within the novel. Crucially, these examples of popular fiction bind crime and authentic events in such a way as to expose and critique social, political and cultural issues. Readers locate themselves within these frameworks and in so doing participate more actively within the narrative. The creative component of the thesis is The Concrete Midden, a crime novel which demonstrates many of the ideas I explore in my exegesis. Qualia played a major part in framing my creative ideas, particularly the qualia of grief, an emotion that I believe many crime narratives ignore. The novel is set in Sydney in 1992, and many of the events of that period wind through the plot. My research discovered crime fiction that interests and surprises me. The interweaving of politics and authentic events within the narrative of crime fiction were the consistent elements of the novels which had the greatest impact on me. Sara Paretsky’s Blacklist, for example, is as much a political discourse on living through America’s reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks as it is a crime novel. The setting of Ian Rankin’s The Naming of the Dead is the G8 summit in Edinburgh, a week that culminated in the bombings of the London underground. Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore is a state- of-the-nation novel masked as a police procedural and Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost traces the human despair of the Sri Lankan civil war. These works do much more than use authentic events as mere backdrops for their crimes. They create crime narratives in which the political and criminal are interwoven, and crime, thus broadly defined, becomes significant to and contingent with those events. It is this significance and contingence I have sought to create in The Concrete Midden by insinuating authentic events into a crime narrative in such a manner as to heighten the readers’ emotional responses, whilst taking them into real political stories which, just might, make them rethink their notions of history. The works I analyse and the novel I have created are not works of unambiguous simplistic morality but social crime fiction, rooted in the flux and uncertainty of the authentic world.
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