Epistemological Checkpoint: The Novelization of the Malayan Emergency in Han Suyin’s ...And the Rain My Drink

Fiona Lee


...And the Rain My Drink (1956) depicts the forced resettlement of rural Chinese in camps during the British counter-insurgency against the communist uprising. Drawing from the author's personal correspondence and unpublished drafts of a sequel to the novel, this essay reads the novel’s representation of the camp checkpoint as a conceptual metaphor for understanding the relation between fiction and history. Based on autobiographical experience, the novel presents its narrator, Dr. Han Suyin, as a translator of the Malayan polyglot world to her reader, effectively framing fiction as a translation of history. Just as the camp checkpoint is a site where the state’s biopolitical power is put on full display, the translation of fiction into history, I argue, can be understood as an act of passing through an epistemological checkpoint, one that illuminates the underlying racial gender politics that sustain the dominant national narrative of the cold war conflict.


Malayan Emergency; novel; camp; colonialism

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