Sunday, October 18, 2009

A genre by any other name

Interesting article by Guy Gavriel Kay for the Globe this weekend about the hoopla over Hilary Mantel winning the Booker for (gasp!) a historical novel. I mean, honestly, next we'll be letting in the horror writers!

His statementa at the end of the article, specifically about scifi, saying that the barriers and prejudices are eroding slowly (he mentions Chabon and Diaz as helping), are particularly relevant, I feel, to the reader's advisory librarian. He reminded me of Neal Wyatt's thoughtful column about RA a few years ago, discussing the concept of genre sliding. Developed by RA goddess Joyce Saricks, genre sliding allows us to talk about books not in terms of literary genre (mystery, scifi, historical novel, etc) but in terms of other descriptors, such as adrenaline, intellect, emotion, and landscape. There are as many reasons to be touched by a book as there are books!

Writes Kay, "We'll find ourselves working away from category and genre debates and toward the question worth asking about any novel: Is it any good?" And isn't that the bloody point?

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