Local Colour: Investigating Social Transformations in Transcultural Crime Fiction

Rita Wilson

Abstract


Over the last twenty years, Italian “migration literature” has made significant contributions to the redefinition of the country’s literary and cultural scene. While the initial phase can best be conceptualized as a generic “micro-system” encompassing canonical genres such as (auto)biography and the Bildungsroman, more recently, narratives of migration have diversified radically, exhibiting a high degree of linguistic and genre experimentation. The defining feature of some of the more successful recent novelists lies in their active engagement with critical social and political issues that concern contemporary Italian society through the vehicle of the crime fiction genre. A case in point is provided by Algerian-born Amara Lakhous, whose four recent novels Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio (2006), Divorzio all’islamica a viale Marconi (2010), Contesa per un maialino italianissimo a San Salvario (2013) and La zingarata della verginella di Via Ormea (2014) all use strategies of genre hybridization (polyphonic migration narratives blended with giallo and noir structures) to problematize notions of citizenship and cultural identity. This article argues that borrowing the conventions of the giallo/noir enables Lakhous both to provide new insights into shifting constructions of “Italianness”/citizenship in a period characterized by the transition from national to transcultural communities and to accentuate the continuity of the dialogical relationship between the crime fiction genre and contemporary social reality.


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