The wild heart of the continent: love and place in the Silk Road novels of Sherry Thomas

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Here's the abstract:

Two critically acclaimed novels by the Chinese-born American romance author Sherry Thomas are set in part in part in the “Silk Road” regions of Central Asia: the 2010 award winning Not Quite a Husband, much of which plays out in the Swat Valley during the 1897 Pathan Revolt; and the 2014 wuxia romance My Beautiful Enemy, whose flashback love story is set in 1883 in the Takla Makan desert region of Chinese Turkestan. Not Quite a Husband portrays this region as a romantic space in which wounded love can heal and authentic selves can be revealed and as a white-imperial space where British grit and resolve and coolness under pressure can be demonstrated against a backdrop of anticolonial unrest. In My Beautiful Enemy, by contrast, Thomas attends to the region’s deep history as the site of cultural contact and exchange (dating back for many centuries before Western Europe took an imperial interest), emphasising its enduringly multi-ethnic and multireligious character. In this second, interracial love story, Thomas recasts the stubbornly white and Protestant genre of Anglo-American popular romance as a decolonised and itself irreducibly heterogeneous space of cultural interaction and exchange.