The Plague of Orientalism: Reading Kevin Chong in the Pandemic


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.

This article “The Plague of Orientalism: Reading Kevin Chong in the Pandemic” originally appeared in Pandemics Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 245 (2021): 128-149.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.