Crime as Historical Testimony: Narrative Suspense in Neo-Dongbei Literature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the role of crime fiction and narrative suspense in neo-Dongbei literature, focusing on three crime stories by the “Three Swordsmen of Tiexi”: Shuang Xuetao's “Moses on the Plain,” Zheng Zhi's Victim in Me, and Ban Yu's “Gun Tomb.” These works reflect on the turbulent historical context of the 1990s in Dongbei, a period marked by mass layoffs and a surge in social unrest. By employing non-linear narrative structures and suspenseful storytelling, the authors unearth buried memories and preserve fictional records for those humiliated and the insulted, giving voice to the grievances, demands, and desperations of the Chinese working class. The chapter argues that crime narratives in neo-Dongbei literature serve as historical testimony, inviting readers to revisit the forgotten “crime scenes” and reconsider the contemporary Dongbei experience. For these neo-Dongbei writers, storytelling is also a journey of homecoming and therapy. Through storytelling, they return to an imagined Dongbei, revisit their “childhood experiences,” and heal their collective trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Identity, Space, and Everyday Life in Contemporary Northeast China
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


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