Mutiny Lindsey Collen

A tropical island in the Indian ocean. Three women in a prison cell built for two. A cyclone is building outside. It casts its mauve shadow inside the prison cell, colouring their skin and the dull grey blankets. Mutiny is the story of kinship between women and of justice, above and beyond a legal system. Collen claims her novel ‘cries out, in rebellion, against the use of repression as the supposed solution to all ills'. KBP
Cover of the book, 2001

Throughout Lindsey Collen’s Mutiny (2011) mutiny functions as an intertextual, transhistorical metaphorics that links the prison breakout and general strike movement in Mauritius described in the novel’s plot together with wider geographical contexts of shipboard mutiny, colonial insurgency, prison insurrections, labour unrest, and socialist revolution against neocolonial conditions throughout the Indian Ocean. In the preface, Collen claims her novel ‘cries out, in rebellion, against the use of repression as the supposed solution to all ills’. This essay traces how colonial and neocolonial subtexts of rebellion and lawlessness constellate an accretion of symbolic and material histories within the novel. It argues that Collen’s narrative use of mutiny recuperates historical antecedents and previous literary representations of mutiny in order to critique contemporary legal apparatuses in light of colonial precedents and to reinvent generic conventions. The novel’s invocation of mutiny and tempest is significant not merely in its subject matter but in its literary form, in that the narrative’s formal disruptions could be read as a kind of ‘literary mutiny’ which attempts to conceive of a space of radical political possibility beyond the limits of historiographical or mimetic representation.