Gothic Spaces and the Tropical City: reading The Crocodile Fury, Haunting the Tiger, Life’s Mysteries

Sathyabhama Daly


Beth Yahp’s The Crocodile Fury (1992), K.S. Maniam’s Haunting the Tiger (1996), and Shirley Lim’s Life’s Mysteries (1995) articulate the ambivalence of interpreting the cultural beliefs of the Malays, Chinese, and Indians of the former Malaya with the evolving spiritual beliefs of Christianity and Catholicism influenced by British colonisation. In Beth Yahp’s The Crocodile Fury the ghosts of the colonial past vie for power with the demons of Chinese cultural beliefs in a convent situated in the liminal space between the jungle and the urban environment. The convent is a “civilised space” with the jungle as an encroaching wilderness haunted by Chinese gods and the female vampire ghost Pontianak of the Malay cultural tradition. Similarly, Maniam’s short stories in Haunting the Tiger situate the supernatural and the abject in the liminal spaces between the city and the jungle to express the metaphorical exile experienced by the Indian and Chinese diaspora in Malaysia. The trope of liminality is most evident in Shirley Lim’s short stories in Life’s Mysteries where the domestic and urban space of culture are viewed through prisms of imprisonment and disempowerment. The authors uncover the psychological and social exile experienced by colonised subjects through the gothic themes of shadows, darkness and the underworld.

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