John le Carré and The New Novel of Global (In)security


This essay considers the limitations of the traditional state-bound crime and espionage novels to effectively map new transnational crime and global finance networks and security provisions, and looks instead to the hybridization of crime and espionage forms in post-Cold War novels by John le Carré such as A Most Wanted Man (2008) and Our Kind of Traitor (2010). Pepper argues that much more is at stake in these “new novels of global (in)security” than the hybridization of formal elements from different genres. Rather, by refusing to put the state at the heart of the new security environment (and the ongoing and unrealizable efforts to bring about global security), by complicating the relationship between the domestic and the international, and by showing the work of security, not in terms of catching criminals and terrorists, but through the practices of risk management, financial surveillance and managing public/private partnerships, le Carré necessarily produces a generically distinctive narrative form. Pepper examines the extent to which le Carré’s self-evident hostility to changes in the security environment wrought by US imperialist agendas on the one hand, and the partial privatization of policing initiatives on the other, especially in the wake of 9/11, infuses the new novel focusing on global (in)security with a robust and effective means of critiquing this new security landscape.

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