The explosion in self-publishing and the subsequent success of self-published authors has certainly turned the publishing industry on its head. The impact is far reaching and in particular on genre boundaries which have become increasingly blurred and outdated. Yet browse your local bookshop or the virtual pages of Amazon and you’re left in no doubt as to the importance of genre categorization. Historically genre fiction and literary fiction have been considered separate entities but has literary fiction had its day or the boundaries between literary fiction and genre fiction become so confused that the differentiation no longer matters?
The problem with Literary fiction is actually defining it. There has always been something of a snob value attached to it. The widely held perspective being that the quality of writing is better. If we turn towards an author like Carlos Ruiz Zafron it’s undoubtedly so but search for Zafron’s books on Amazon and we will find his books listed as Historical Literary Fiction, Reference (Books), occult thrillers and vampire thrillers. Search for other top tier authors on Amazon and you will see the same thing over and over again.
Genre classification seems to have become less about informing the reader or the quality of the writing than it has about choosing a classification which offers a search advantage and Literary fiction may well be suffering the fall out with many self-published literary gems, in particular, going unnoticed. Of course, there are many superb authors who choose to straddle the gap between literary and genre fiction and one you might want to have on your ‘must read’ radar is the up and coming Jamie Zerndt. We had the privilege of reviewing The Korean Word For Butterfly upon its release and his latest novel, Jerkwater falls firmly into the classification of good literary fiction.
We aren’t the first site to blog on the subject of literary fiction and we certainly won’t be the last but to get back to our statement about the boundaries between literary fiction and genre fiction becoming so confused that the differentiation may no longer matter. What do you think?