Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Blending of Genre and Literary Fiction

Gone are the days when literary fiction was easily separated from genre fiction. As described in an article by Kevin Nance in Poets & Writers:
Aspects of detective and crime novels, thrillers, science fiction and fantasy, horror, westerns, comics, and other subgenres are increasingly showing up in variously transmogrified forms, with and without ironic quotation marks, in works of literary fiction. Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union, published by HarperCollins last year, is both an alternate history—a favorite trope of sci-fi/fantasy—and an homage to hard-boiled detective fiction and film noir. … And after being categorized as a "literary" novelist early in his career, Richard Price has, beginning with Clockers (Houghton Mifflin, 1992), produced a series of richly imagined, highly regarded police procedurals that continues with Lush Life, published in March by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Nance quotes Jonathan Lethem, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for his novel Motherless Brooklyn, who reminds us that "[the novel] was originally a suspicious, popular, lowbrow entertainment, and it still happily bears within its compass the sense that it's supposed to be full of life and fun, something you can get absorbed in. Fiction is a polyglot, mongrel activity, and there's no limit to what it can contain."

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