Narrative Theory

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November 24, 2012 9:20 pm

The rise of literary genres | Robert McCrum on books | Books | The Guardian


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“A week ago, writing about 62-year old Hilary Boyd’s Thursdays in the Park (Quercus), I coined the term “gran lit”. Hardly original, you will say, (no dispute there), but it caught on. Subsequently, variations on “gran lit” appeared in the Times, the Telegraph and the Independent, as well as getting recognition in Australia’s Herald-Sun.

The gran in question (Mrs Boyd) also popped up on both the ITV News at Ten and the Today Show, challenging the conventional wisdom: just because you’re over 60, you’re not interested in having a fling. I’m wondering how long it will be before gran lit joins chick lit, and the rest, as a term of art. That’s to say, as a shorthand for a now-booming genre of fiction for the “grey market”.

The development of the literary marketplace in the past 30-something years has been echoed by a new, and acute, sensitivity to the place of genre within the trade. In a market-savvy creative economy, you could say that genre has become everything. I have been able to identify 15 contemporary shades of “literature”. No doubt, readers will think of others, but here are some obvious first nominations.”

See on guardian.co.uk