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Book Chapter

Negotiating with the tradition: representations of fish in Alai’s fictional writing

  • Mario De Grandis
  • Filippo Costantini

Tibet has long been orientalized in fictional representations. Taking as a case study two texts by Alai, this paper investigates how a traditional Tibetan cultural trait–the fish taboo–is mobilized to complicate the representation of Tibetan culture. By describing the fish taboo Alai points at Tibet's cultural specificity, which in virtue of its exoticism can catch the attention of non-Tibetan readers. At the same time, however, Alai equips his characters with psychological depth, showing their contrasting inner emotions of attraction and repulsion toward fish. In this sense, Alai subtly points at the fallacies of flat representations of Tibet, thus dismantling them from within.

  • Keywords:
  • Chinese ethnic minority literature,
  • Alai,
  • disgust studies,
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Mario De Grandis

University College Dublin, Ireland - ORCID: 0000-0001-9709-4821

Filippo Costantini

University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica - ORCID: 0000-0002-5799-0004

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  • Publication Year: 2021
  • Pages: 111-125
  • Content License: CC BY 4.0
  • © 2021 Author(s)

  • Publication Year: 2021
  • Content License: CC BY 4.0
  • © 2021 Author(s)

Chapter Information

Chapter Title

Negotiating with the tradition: representations of fish in Alai’s fictional writing


Mario De Grandis, Filippo Costantini





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Food issues 食事

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Interdisciplinary Studies on Food in Modern and Contemporary East Asia


Miriam Castorina, Diego Cucinelli

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Firenze University Press



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Studi e saggi

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