Jean-Luc Guéry is a man down on his luck. Middling journalist, gambling addict, alcoholic. Yet when news of his brother’s murder in Saigon reaches him in France, Guéry drops everything and travels to French Vietnam to investigate.
Guéry is not the kind of main character you’d think would star in a detective novel like Bede Scott’s Too Far From Antibes—something that many other characters in Bede’s novel remark on several occasions. Yet Scott drives Guéry through a murky plot of corruption and colonialism in a tense Saigon near the end of French colonialism.
Bede Scott is Associate Professor of World Literature in the School of Humanities at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has been teaching in Singapore since 2006, when he completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge. Scott is the author of On Lightness in World Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and Affective Disorders: Emotion in Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (Liverpool University Press, 2019).
Today, Bede and I talk about his novel, the setting of colonial-era Vietnam—and how Bede’s character and plot try to deconstruct some of the standard tropes of the detective novel.