Emergency politics and the middlebrow novel: A comparative analysis of Han Suyin’s … and the Rain my Drink and Mary McMinnies’s The Flying Fox

Wetherilt, Anne (2021). Emergency politics and the middlebrow novel: A comparative analysis of Han Suyin’s … and the Rain my Drink and Mary McMinnies’s The Flying Fox. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 57(2) pp. 255–268.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17449855.2021.1894685

Abstract

In July 1956, Han Suyin’s novel of the Malayan Emergency was published in London and Singapore. … and the Rain my Drink is a fictional account of the communist insurgency and the British counter-insurgency campaign. What is often overlooked is that earlier that year the British author Mary McMinnies had published her “Emergency” novel The Flying Fox, which covers much of the same political ground as Han’s. This article views Han’s and McMinnies’s work as exemplars of middlebrow fiction. To narrate the end of empire, both texts employ literary devices associated with the middlebrow, alongside exotic imagery familiar from an earlier imperial tradition. Han’s narrative choices acquire, however, distinctive meanings in the Malayan context, associating the exotic with Malaya’s multi-ethnic political landscape, and the domestic tropes of the middlebrow with societal tensions and a newfound Asian confidence, whilst also revealing Asian sensitivities and imported western values.

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