The Litt Fic Genre

An interesting breakdown of the literary fiction genre by Toby Litt. Its refreshing to see someone usualy heavily associated with LitFic abandon the partisan position and admit that at bottom is just another genre.

Toby is in a good place to comment, being represented by the Mic Cheetham agency who happen to also have Iain Banks, Jon Courtney Grimwood, China Mievile, M John Harrison, Ken McCleod, Tricia Sullivan and Steph Swainston on their books, which is basicaly a whos who of contemporary British SFF writing.

There is a lot of trashy SFF in the world, I’ll admit to liking quite a lot of it despite (or even because of) its flaws, it just appeals to my tastes. I don’t want this stuff hailed as great literature. But then I don’t want the turgid, genre bound swathes of LitFic hailed as great literature either. IMHO this is one of the majour causes of declining readerships for contemporary fiction at the moment. I would like to see a Booker shortlist that included the fantastic stories being told in SFF, or graphic novels, or even YA fiction and any other genre where the writers are pushing the boundaries and producing startlingly good writing. I think if this did happen you would start to see some of the lost readership come back to books, and back into bookshops.

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

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