A Japanese-American Sam Spade: The Metaphysical Detective in Death in Little Tokyo, by Dale Furutani Cover Image
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A Japanese-American Sam Spade: The Metaphysical Detective in Death in Little Tokyo, by Dale Furutani
A Japanese-American Sam Spade: The Metaphysical Detective in Death in Little Tokyo, by Dale Furutani

Author(s): Carla Portilho
Subject(s): Fiction, Studies of Literature, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Language
Published by: Editura Universitatii LUCIAN BLAGA din Sibiu
Keywords: contemporary detective fiction; Japanese-American literature; roman noir; metaphysical detectives; excentric detectives; counterdiscursive narratives; memory; Japanese Internment; marginalized communi

Summary/Abstract: The aim of this essay is to discuss the legacy of the roman noir in contemporary detective fiction produced outside the hegemonic center of power, here represented by the novel Death in Little Tokyo (1996), written by Japanese-American author Dale Furutani. Starting from the concept of the metaphysical detective (Haycraft 76; Holquist 153-156), characterized by deep questioning about narrative, interpretation, subjectivity, the nature of reality and the limits of knowledge, this article proposes a discussion about how these literary works, which at first sight represent a traditionally Anglo-American genre, constitute narratives that aim to rescue the memory, history and culture of marginalized communities. Typical of late modernity detective fiction, the metaphysical detective has none of the positivistic detective’s certainties, as he does not share in his Cartesian notion of totality, being presented instead as a successor of the hardboiled detective of the roman noir. In this article I intend to analyze the paths chosen by the author and discuss how his re-reading of the roman noir dialogues with the texts of hegemonic noire detective fiction, inscribing them in literary tradition and subverting them at the same time.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 28
  • Page Range: 39-51
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: English