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''A contradiction in terms": Patrick Neate's "City of tiny lights" as a literary intervention into post-9/11 discourse


Frank, Michael C (2011). ''A contradiction in terms": Patrick Neate's "City of tiny lights" as a literary intervention into post-9/11 discourse. In: Austenfeld, Thomas; Daphinoff, Dimiter; Herlth, Jens. Terrorism and narrative practice. Münster: LIT-Verlag, 61-79.

Abstract

This essay discusses the relationship between popular literature and what various scholars have termed the "terrorism myth." Using the example of British writer Patrick Neate's 2005 novel "City of Tiny Lights," I emphasize the meta- and counter-discursive potentials of fiction. My thesis is that "City of Tiny Lights" may be characterized as a critical intervention into the then current public discourse on terrorism, and that this intervention occurs at four levels: first, the novel's characters explicitly discuss counter-terrorist rhetoric, questioning the appropriateness and meaningfulness of key concepts such as "war on terror"; second, the novel's plot is deliberately designed to undercut common notions of the terrorist as a religious fundamentalist, portraying the perpetrators as either narcissistic megalomaniacs or misguided youths whose motivation is to be sought in their individual life histories and circumstances rather than in universal terrorist ideologies; third, the novel uses a postcolonial detective to expose the epistemological limitations of counter-terrorism, which (so Neate's characters claim) is unable to think beyond established pattems; and fourth, the narrator-protagonist comments on the political instrumentalization of fear.

Abstract

This essay discusses the relationship between popular literature and what various scholars have termed the "terrorism myth." Using the example of British writer Patrick Neate's 2005 novel "City of Tiny Lights," I emphasize the meta- and counter-discursive potentials of fiction. My thesis is that "City of Tiny Lights" may be characterized as a critical intervention into the then current public discourse on terrorism, and that this intervention occurs at four levels: first, the novel's characters explicitly discuss counter-terrorist rhetoric, questioning the appropriateness and meaningfulness of key concepts such as "war on terror"; second, the novel's plot is deliberately designed to undercut common notions of the terrorist as a religious fundamentalist, portraying the perpetrators as either narcissistic megalomaniacs or misguided youths whose motivation is to be sought in their individual life histories and circumstances rather than in universal terrorist ideologies; third, the novel uses a postcolonial detective to expose the epistemological limitations of counter-terrorism, which (so Neate's characters claim) is unable to think beyond established pattems; and fourth, the narrator-protagonist comments on the political instrumentalization of fear.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:25 Apr 2019 11:29
Last Modified:25 Apr 2019 11:29
Publisher:LIT-Verlag
Series Name:Swiss: Forschung und Wissenschaft
ISBN:978-3-643-80082-4
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:http://www.lit-verlag.de/isbn/3-643-80082-4 (Publisher)
https://www.recherche-portal.ch/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=ebi01_prod006958208&context=L&vid=ZAD&search_scope=default_scope&tab=default_tab&lang=de_DE (Library Catalogue)

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