Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Still Bugged by Genres

Yes, I’m slightly bugged now by the Genre debate. Yes, we understand the need, but … but …

What about Life of Pi? Or Curious Incident of Dog in the Night-Time? The Kite Runner? And novels with social comment like Small Island by Andrea Levy or Brick Lane by Monica Ali? Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Quicksolver? Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks? Just a tiny sample of popular books that perhaps do not slot easily into an existing category, but had they not been taken up by a publisher, the reading public would be the poorer. They all have ‘something to say or show’. Are they just 'general fiction'?

Since my post on the vexed question of Genre, many more classifications – and is classification synonymous with genre? – have popped into my head. So is there room for another I wonder? I would love to hear from publishers or anyone else who is knowledgeable on these matters. A term that captures real issues/ethics/substance within the framework of a captivating story. Thus the reader is both entertained and enriched. Such novels may or may not be ‘literature’ – perhaps the most challenging term of all to define. They may or may not be exploring ethics or politics.

‘Faction’ does not quite do it for me. ‘Social comment fiction’? ‘Reality fiction’? ‘Themed’? Sue Cook on The Write Lines suggested ‘intelligent story-telling’.

Perhaps the elusive genre already exists. If so, please tell me.

1 comment:

  1. I guess you read David Hewsons blog entry on the genre subject? ( I'm interested in the subject but know little about it. I tend to frown upon genre's. They seem so very limiting.