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36 - Frontline Fictions

Popular Forms from Crime to Grime

from (II) - Framing New Visions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 December 2019

Susheila Nasta
Affiliation:
Queen Mary University of London
Mark U. Stein
Affiliation:
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
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Summary

This chapter engages a range of texts that, for over thirty years, have shaped understandings of black and Asian British popular fictions through numerous forms and genres. In reading, among others, crime and detective fictions, female erotica, and The X-Press’s inner-city novels, and also music and popular film, the chapter suggests two theoretical trajectories: On the one hand, it explores the liminal space of the frontline as a framework for charting the politics of popular texts. On the other, it shows how these texts often negotiate their own positionalities through a self-reflexive ‘nobrow’ aesthetics. As it moves from the late 1980s to the 1990s, the first section revisits texts by, among others, Mike Phillips, Victor Headley, Sheri Campbell, Alex Wheatle, and Courttia Newland, whose work in part surfaced as a counter-movement to a highbrow literary aesthetics. Reaching into the twenty-first century, the second part addresses more recent popular textualities, like Wiley’s or Stormzy’s grime music, contemporary estate novels by Guy Gunaratne, Olumide Popoola, and Nikesh Shukla, as well as the films of Noel Clarke and Menhaj Huda.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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