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Poetics of Propensity in Sinophone Fiction

An Analysis of Lai Hsiang-yin and Lee Wai Yi’s Ghost Narrative

Riccardo Moratto    Shanghai International Studies University, China    

Di-kai Chao    University of Canterbury, New Zealand    



This study aims to analyse two novellas, namely “Rain Tree” (“Yudou shu” 雨豆樹) by Lai Hsiang-yin 賴香吟 (2017) from Taiwan and “Away” (“Li” 離) by Lee Wai Yi 李維怡 (2018) from Hong Kong. This article attempts to understand how non-corporeal or non-representational ghost narratives become a mobile strategy for re-investigating mainstream narratives or the violence of modernity. Through the ‘de-temporalisation’ of the city and the momentary folding of time and space, Rain Tree reconsiders the meaning of Taiwan as a superior signifier. Away endeavours to reveal the ghostly nature underneath the instrumental rationality of Hong Kong, tapping into the fluctuating heterogeneity of modernity. This study also draws on Sinophone articulation to juxtapose two texts belonging to Taiwan and Hong Kong, thus highlighting how ghosts become a poetics of ‘propensity’ (shi 勢) within the Sinophone framework. These spectral entities transcend the confines of conventional categorisations and challenge the fixedness of ‘roots’. This strategy does not follow the logic of psychoanalytic selfhood or postcolonial grand narratives, but rather a fluid nature and potential.

Aug. 29, 2023
June 13, 2023
Jan. 16, 2023

Keywords: Ghost narrativeLai Hsiang-yinSinophone literaturePoetics of ‘propensity’Lee Wai Yi

Copyright: © 2023 Riccardo Moratto, Di-kai Chao. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.