Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

A Wildcat of Language: Yelena Moskovich's Crime Fiction



Emma Crowley
1 University of Bristol, UK


In the 2022 Norwich Lecture, the Ukrainian-American writer and artist Yelena Moskovich comments on the three novels she has written to date: “I never thought of myself as a crime writer because the world of my writing is lawless by nature, and those who inhabit it, trespassers of form. In my stories, no one dies, because they are already dead. No one breaks the law, because the laws are already broken.” However, Moskovich goes on to note, literary works, like the Slavic character, exist inside a philosophical crime scene, where the metaphysical drama of the human condition reigns supreme.

This paper considers Moskovich’s disposition towards crime fiction as a philosophical articulation of the transnational, post-Soviet condition. Within her work the metaphysical experience of immigration is formulated as a chase of catch and kill, in which the outlaw text is less an image of the prowling figure of the detective, and more a rumination on the prison house of reality. It contrasts Moskovich’s writing on the metaphysics of crime fiction with scholarship on the ‘born-translated’ (Walkowitz 2017) aspects of crime fiction, exploring how Moskovich’s literary depictions of queerness and migration can be read alongside an extroverted (Julien 2017) tradition of the Russian detective novel.