Saturday, 21 April 2007

Genre fiction

So, a novel about fighting cannibals in a post-apocalyptic wasteland wins the Pullitzer, and is therefore serious fiction, and a novel about Isaac Newton and the Glorious Revolution wins the Prometheus award, which makes it science fiction and for geeks. This is very annoying: I assume it's because Cormac McCarthy has always been writing the great American novel while Neal Stephenson started in "postcyberpunk", apparently. This is all just pointless categorisation. Borges gets credited as the real thing, but closest to him in spirit writing at the moment are people like Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link, who count as genre. It's not just science fiction and fantasy, there's chick-lit, romance, and detective fiction too; there's some serious writing tucked away in those sections of the book shops, and some poor rubbish on the main shelves. And it's not like it's not genre to have to read another blooming novel about people living in London having disfunctional love lifes and hating their jobs. Enough already! Especially if they're losing their minds in some way, or are being brutalised by cubicle life.

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