Exploring how Margaret Atwood’s fiction reimagines the figure of the detective and the nature of crime, Jackie Shead shows how the author radically reworks the crime fiction genre. Shead focuses on Surfacing, Bodily Harm, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake and selected short fiction, showing the ways in which Atwood’s protagonists are confronted by their own collusion in hegemonic assumptions and thus are motivated to investigate and expose crimes of gender, class and colonialism. Shead begins with a discussion of how Atwood’s treatment of crime fiction’s generic elements, particularly those of the whodunit, clue puzzle and spy thriller, departs from convention. Through discussion of Atwood’s metafictive strategies, Shead also examines Atwood’s techniques for activating her readers as investigators who are offered an educative process parallel to that experienced by some of the author’s protagonists. This book also marks a significant intervention in an ongoing debate among Atwood critics that pits the author’s postmodernism against her ethical and humanistic concerns.
Table of Contents
1 Margaret Atwood and the Crime Fiction Genre
2 Surfacing: The Detective Murder Mystery
3 Bodily Harm: The Game of Clue and the Spy Thriller
4 Alias Grace: The Cold Case and the Doomed Detective
5 The Blind Assassin: Conspiracy and Confession
6 Payback and Selected Fiction: Reckoning, Redress, Retribution
7 The Metafictive Detective Story
8 Margaret Atwood and Post-Colonial Crime Fiction
Jackie Shead received her PhD in English Literature from the University of Bristol. She has lectured at colleges in Exeter and Bristol and has published many articles in The English Review.
"In engaging closely with themes and story structure, Shead’s is a valuable contribution, to scholarship on crime fiction, and also on Atwood. She crucially draws, out the importance of language too, a close analysis of which is needed for a fuller, appreciation of the experience of reading such novels." - Christiana Gregoriou, University of Leeds, UK