Thursday, September 27, 2012

The wide world of hate

Michael Stanley's novel Death of the Mantis has as one narrative current suspicion of and condescension by a group of relative newcomers to southern Africa toward the aboriginal population. The newcomers are black, the indigenous people the Bushmen, who populated the area many thousands of years before the Bantu peoples arrived.

Some years before, I'd noted with interest the suspicion and occasional derision Swedish police officers directed toward an ethnic Finnish colleague in one of Helene Tursten's books. Finns, in turn, are less than generous and fair toward their own country's Sami indigenous population in another crime novel whose title escapes me at the moment.

Finally, I recently met a Canadian who had had extensive professional dealings in China and with its population. "Don't ask the Chinese what they think of black people," he said, shaking his head ruefully.

We in America, where "people of color" is a blanket term, tend to think of racism as, by definition, directed by white people of European descent toward peoples with complexions different from theirs, generally darker. I find it a bracing reminder of the complexity and diversity of humanity to be reminded that ethnic suspicion and resentment are more widespread than that. Knowledge is good.

What about you, generous and inquiring readers? What surprising examples of ethnic suspicion and prejudice have you found in your fiction reading?
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Stanley Trollip, who is along with Michael Sears the writing team of Michael Stanley, will be part of my "Murder is Everywhere" panel at Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland, Saturday, October 6, 10:15-11:05 a.m.

Here's the complete Bouchercon schedule.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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16 Comments:

Blogger Cary Watson said...

Many years ago I was writing a film script for a Toronto production company that specialized in low budget productions that were sold to Third World TV networks. I was told I could write any kind of action/thriller story I wanted as long as it wasn't too expensive to shoot (the budget was 50k!!), and to make sure there weren't any Chinese characters in the story. Why, I asked. I was told that African audiences can't stand the Chinese. But just to show you how warped the film world is at the low budget end of the market, the next script I wrote for them came with the request to include a female Chinese character. It was later revealed to me that the producer wanted the chance to "audition" a Chinese girl because he'd never had the chance to "audition" a Chinese girl before. It would be his first. So who says film producers are sleazy?

September 27, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, that's a heart-warming story of overcoming prejudice--I think.

September 27, 2012  
Blogger seana graham said...

Funny, I was just over at my blog friend Kathleen Kirk's blog which was titled Praying Mantis, and it was odd to see Mantis pop up again so soon.

I don't have a very direct answer to your question off the top of my head, but have just finished Tim Hallinan's Breathing Water, where the "class distinction" between Thai Chinese and the ethnic Thai is described as centuries old. The power structure is very much outside the purview of the white West.

September 27, 2012  
Blogger seana graham said...

I will probably get to the Fear Artist fairly soon myself, as its on my shelves, and by on my shelves, I mean I can actually find it. I'd kind of like to read The Queen of Patpong first, though, even if I have started in out of sequence.

September 27, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Funny, I have just picked up Hallinan's latest, "The Fear Artist."

Yes, that kind of class distinction is just the sort of thing I had in mind.

September 27, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I remember quite liking "Breathing Water." I read "The Queen of Patpong" recently, and I was impressed most by the plotting. The chapters and multichapter sections seemed carefully planned, suspense built in, skillful references to and use of events that had happened earlier in the book, terrific section endings. I plan to take this up next week, when I have Hallinan on my Bouchercon panel. I'd be happy to pass on to him any questions you might have.

September 27, 2012  
Blogger seana graham said...

I don't have any questions as yet, but do pass on my admiration for his multilayered rendition of Bangkok. I liked his sense of humor, too.

September 28, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, he wrings much humor from domestic scenes. I wrote in a post about "The Queen of Patpong" that Hallinan's protagonist, Poke Rafferty, was like a perfect sitcom father when not blowing his stack and going after bad guys.

September 28, 2012  
Blogger seana graham said...

I would say from reading only Breathing Water that Poke's humor is more general than that. The comedy isn't as much in the household as it is with the cops and even the villains of the piece.

September 28, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ha! Look who wrote a blog post called ”Bits of humor in Breathing Water".

September 28, 2012  
Blogger seana graham said...

Nice. Although also sad, because I don't see Sucharita Suchar popping in much anywhere anymore.

September 28, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I also experienced a twinge when I saw her name. We should look for her.

September 28, 2012  
Blogger Declan Burke said...

Ken Bruen writes on occasion, in the Jack Taylor novels, about how the Traveller community in Ireland are treated by the 'settled' community - not very well, for the most part. And Adrian McKinty's Falling Glass gives a Traveller's-eye view of Ireland - again, the 'settled' community don't come out of it very well.

September 28, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sure, The Killing of the Tinkers. But what's most interesting to me about that book, from the point of view of this post, is that significant bit near book's end where it's the Tinkers who look morally bad.

September 28, 2012  
Anonymous Linkmeister said...

Be a white person in high school in Hawai'i. It's supposedly not so bad now, but 30 years ago there were regular "Kill Haole" days (Haole meaning white stranger) in those schools.

September 29, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Mm, does Blogger eat controversial comments?

A quick, unsystematic search suggests that letter and editorial writers whose names appeared European agreed that Kill Haole Day existed. One woman wrote that it was largely an urban legend "at this point in time." (I think "at this point in time" means "now.")

Their counterparts whose names suggested Asian or Hawai'ian ancestry said nope, never existed, never has.

By the way, you must be happy now that the Dodgers got Shane Victorino. You probably get more news about your team.

September 29, 2012  

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