The City and The Other: representations of foreign and familiar experience in urban settings in contemporary crime fiction

Joe Thomas

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The thesis is composed of two parts:

One) a creative component: Paradise City, a literary crime novel.
Two) a critical component: Representations of the city in the work of David Peace – ‘anti-crime’, transnational writing, and the city voice.

The creative component explores the impact on São Paulo of three recent historical events: construction projects for the 2014 World Cup; the Mensalão political corruption trial; Operação Saturação, a Military Police operation in Paraisópolis, the largest favela in central São Paulo. Research involves experimentation with narrative forms to create a fictional world that mirrors the experience of contemporary life from a variety of social backgrounds in a thriving and economically and culturally rich urban setting. Brazilian and ex-pat characters feature. I explore the differences in interacting with a city-space from these foreign and familiar perspectives and the extent to which the city itself defines the place and status of character.

The critical component is a study of the fiction of David Peace, specifically: his use of urban settings, the creation of a city voice, and the perspectives of place from authorial and character viewpoints. Peace examines in his fiction why particular crimes happen in particular places at particular times. On a stylistic level, I am drawn to Peace’s work for its immersive intensity and the blending of voices and forms; the predominantly fracturing narratives are an effective means of communicating and writing the city. A key contribution to knowledge is the concept of a city voice and how it is achieved in contemporary fiction, alongside deepening understanding of the importance of urban space and culture on literary works. The idea of the emigrating writer and questions raised by transnational ideas were a spur in investigating how we understand place as practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Jones, Susanna, Supervisor
  • Roberts, Adam, Advisor
Award date1 Jun 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017

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