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Title:Off-colour? Mike Nicol's neo-noir 'revenge trilogy' and the post-apartheid 'femme fatale'
Author:De Kock, LeonISNI
Periodical:African Studies (ISSN 1469-2872)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:crime novels
black women
literary criticism
About person:Mike Nicol (1951-)ISNI
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020184.2015.1129134
Abstract:This article critically examines the use of noir, neo-noir and global noir conventions in Mike Nicol's 'revenge trilogy' of crime novels, 'Payback' (2008), 'Killer Country' (2010), and 'Black Heart' (2011). Nicol invents a black femme fatale who is shown to be an 'evil' concentrate of all that is perceived to be corrupt under post-apartheid conditions. The 'dame' in question, Shemina February, is portrayed in such a way that she becomes a projection of what scholars and commentators increasingly see as a corrupt, neoliberal power-base hijacking the legacy of the South African struggle against apartheid. However, the article raises the question: why locate such a pronounced sense of political 'evil' in a black female character? Coming from a white writer, regardless of his credentials, such a gesture raises the possibility of dubious racial and gender typecasting in an act of (perhaps unconscious?) projection. Might the white post-apartheid writer, in this way, be seeking a sacrificial object for the perceived ills of post-apartheid, in much the way classic noir projected its anxieties about the displacement of (white) male agency onto 'bad' women after the Second World War? The article offers alternate readings of Nicol's 'femme fatale'. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]