Plant performance: war, ethnicity, and the Japanese garden in patricia grace’s chappy

Iping Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay investigates the representation of the Japanese garden as a site of “plant performance” in New Zealand writer Patricia Grace’s Chappy (2015). By drawing on critical plant studies publications by Patricia Vieira et al., John Ryan, Alan Read, Brendan Doody et al., and others, I examine both the material and metaphor of the Japanese garden in Grace’s novel. Planted in New Zealand by Chappy, the garden represents a human-made and ethnic landscape, bearing a specific politicized aesthetics and coding of Japan and embodying an “ecological poesies”—a performance site that in the words of Vieira et al., is one of “bearing seeds, irrupting in flowers, sprouting rhizomes, uncoiling leaves, attracting pollinators, garnering human attention, and mobilizing transnational networks” (viii). Focusing on the ethnic and botanical “performance” of the Japanese garden in Chappy according to the given critical perspectives, I explore the connection between the garden and other content that addresses war, ethnicity, and transvegetal interconnectedness. I argue that the Japanese garden in Grace’s novel creates and calls for a “poetics of inclusion” that centers on peace and interconnect-edness rather than war and exclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-25
Number of pages23
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec


  • Chappy
  • Critical plant studies
  • Ethnicity
  • Maori
  • Patricia Grace
  • Plant performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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