The Plague of Orientalism

Reading Kevin Chong in the Pandemic

Authors

  • Clint Burnham Simon Fraser University

Abstract

Reading Kevin Chong’s 2018 novel The Plague in the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, this article argues that historical conditions, including white supremacy in Canada and liberal democratic anxieties regarding same are rendered in the novel both through representative scenes (a political figure visits patients in a pandemic ward, a protest featuring anti-immigrant and anti-racist participants devolves into a riot) and through such speech acts as trigger warnings and land acknowledgments. An intersection of historicist and psychoanalytic interpretations warn against both simply ascribing textual scenes to a literal writing of the Real, and seeking to cordon off the text from the social.

Published

2021-10-22

Issue

Section

Articles