The Honorable Detective

Even in these politically correct times it’s still possible for a literary historian to speak approvingly of Charlie Chan. Here’s how Donna Seaman closes her review of Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History by Yunte Huang:  

After interpreting a rich bounty of rarely examined material, and carefully sorting through pro and con responses to Chan over the decades (Huang places Chan beside Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe and Hercule Poirot), Huang reminds us that Charlie Chan is complicated, unruly, chimerical, possibly mythic and certainly politically incorrect. With his brilliant and hilarious Chanisms and subtle ways, the honorable detective, Huang declares, is a trickster and a folk hero, a classic embodiment of grace under pressure in which one fights oppression by camouflaging one’s power and intent with humor and mock humility.

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