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Scrutinized!Surveillance in Asian North American Literature$
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Monica Chiu

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838423

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838423.001.0001

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Persistent Vigilance and Racial Longing in Choi’s Person of Interest and Kim’s The Interpreter

Persistent Vigilance and Racial Longing in Choi’s Person of Interest and Kim’s The Interpreter

Chapter:
(p.68) Chapter 4 Persistent Vigilance and Racial Longing in Choi’s Person of Interest and Kim’s The Interpreter
Source:
Scrutinized!
Author(s):

Monica Chiu

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824838423.003.0004

This chapter examines the often sobering experiences of surveillance shadowing nonwhite subjects by reading two detective novels: Susan Choi's Person of Interest and Suki Kim's The Interpreter. In both novels, the protagonists are reserved and unobtrusive Asian North Americans who unravel the crimes circumscribing their lives in the racial melancholy of the nation. The chapter first establishes the protagonists' depressed condition as racial melancholia and considers how they embody the effects of persistent vigilance by internalizing scrutiny performed by the dominant community, generating emotional turmoil. It then discusses the pronounced psychological yearning related to the racial visibility and categorization of the protagonists. It also explores the representational idiom of the inscrutable Asian—the paradoxical position of being looked at and overlooked—through a critique of Kandice Chuh's “subjectless” Asian American.

Keywords:   detective novels, Susan Choi, Suki Kim, Person of Interest, The Interpreter, surveillance, Asian North Americans, crime, racial melancholia, inscrutable Asian

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