Saturday, 7 April 2012

What sort of story is that?

"So what genre is your novel then?" is a question I am often asked and one I really struggle to answer. My ultimate aim is to be writing literary fiction, but I think I may have a long way to go before it is considered that. So, what is the novel I am currently writing then? Well, when I met with Simon Taylor of Transworld publishers earlier this year he classified it as women's fiction. So, despite my slight disappointment as I thought it could be of interest to men too, we'll go with that. Perhaps by the time it has been finished and edited, it will get upgraded to literary. Who knows? All I really know is that it's the story that was in me and that is how it came out on paper, or computer screen if you want to be literal about it, and that I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

In preparing for this blog I thought about what genres I like to read and they are wide ranging. I really enjoy the kind of dystopian science fiction that Margaret Atwood writes - think The Handmaid's Tale and Year of the Flood. But I also really enjoy writers such as Maggie O'Farrell, Helen Dunmore and Linda Grant - women's, literary, commercial? I just can't tell. David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is firmly in my Top 10 and that, I believe, defies being given one genre classification. I also really like Peter Carey's writing, Grahame Greene's, RJ Ellory's and Thomas Hardy's, so it seems I am just as confused about what genre I read as what I write.

I like books that grip me, make me care about the characters and teach me something about the world and human nature, oh and it really helps if I also think the writing is good, and I am happy to read anything that meet these criteria no matter what genre it has been classified as. What about you?


  1. Nice taste! I am reading Snow Crash (belatedly) and find it both interesting and slightly puzzling. It is "speculative fiction", am told. Like Gibson. Being merely an aspiring writer I haven't had to worry too much about genres yet. What is literary fiction? I am not sure. Is the quality (?) of writing that qualifies a novel as? Love Graham Greene too: he was where it mattered, and still does. Have you read "The Quiet American"? It's all there, written during the Indochina (French) war back in the 50's. Amazing. What's yuor view of Pynchon?

  2. Genre are created for the publishers' and the bookstores' convenience--I read across genres.

    ---Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    Honoré - I love most of Grahame Greene's work but my personal favourite is The Comedians. Its been ages since I read The Quiet American, I can feel a revisit coming on. Literary fiction is work that has more of a character-driven, psychological approach rather than plot or narrative driven.

  4. Amanda,
    I enjoy books that have adventure and humor. Right now I'm hooked on Bloody Jack Series by L.A. Meyer. I'm on Book 7!

    What's funny is that the publisher lists the series for Middle Grade readers. I feel it is definitely for adults (some of the situations would be inappropriate for younger than YA). Even the author can't understand why they list them for MG readers.

    So, I guess my point is...confusion reigns.

    The Write Soil
    1st Writes