"not only introduces us to Chinatown's newer Fukienese arrivals, with their wide ideological separation from the neighborhood's longer-established residents, but [Chang] portrays dangerous criminal rivalries among these relative newcomers."Then, as now, Chang's work led me to reflect on an aspect of Dashiell Hammett I had not thought of previously. That's timely because I'll be talking about Hammett with Julie M. Rivett and Richard Layman next month at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The session is called "Inside the Mind and Work of Dashiell Hammett," and it happens Saturday, October 10, at 8:30 a.m. There's still time to register, so I'll see you there, and I may even buy you a cup of coffee after the panel.
Dashiell Hammett did something similar in 1925, in a story called "Dead Yellow Women." That's not a title one would see today unless it was intended with irony, and it may make readers in 2015 cringe. But take a look at what Hammett does at the beginning of the story:
"The San Francisco papers had been full of her affairs for a couple of days. They had printed photographs and diagrams, interviews, editorials, and more or less expert opinions from various sources. They had gone back to 1912 to remember the stubborn fight of the local Chinese—mostly from Fokien and Kwangtung, where democratic ideas and hatred of Manchus go together—to have her father kept out of the United States, to which he had scooted when the Manchu rule flopped. The papers had recalled the excitement in Chinatown when Shan Fang was allowed to land—insulting placards had been hung in the streets, an unpleasant reception had been planned.
"But Shan Fang had fooled the Cantonese. Chinatown had never seen him. He had taken his daughter and his gold—presumably the accumulated profits of a life-time of provincial misrule—down to San Mateo County, where he had built what the papers described as a palace on the edge of the Pacific."
© Peter Rozovsky 2010, 2015