Book of the Week – 26

Hello gentle reader,

A while ago I wrote a post about the books which successfully build a bridge between literary and genre fiction. The book I just finished reading belongs to this narrow category. It’s entitled NIGHT FILM and it was written by Marisha Pessl. It’s a literary thriller which was published in January 2013.

Night Film

From Goodreads:

Everybody has a Cordova story.

Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an engima. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.

On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.

For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.

The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lost his grip on reality.

You may remember Marisha Pessl’s debut novel, SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS, is one of my favourite books of all time. Needless to say, I was eagerly anticipating her second book, NIGHT FILM. I had to wait 7 years for it, but it was definitely worth the wait. This book is amazing. Buy it or borrow it now, and read it as soon as possible.

Have you read NIGHT FILM? What did you think? What are you reading this week?

Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Building a bridge between literary and genre fiction

Hello gentle reader,

Last week at the London Book Fair, I attended a seminar on Genre Snobbery, which inspired me for this post (please note this is not a recap of said seminar).

Traditionally, literary fiction and genre fiction have been akin to two different planets. On the one hand, literary fiction is seen as character-driven, “serious” fiction with universal/thought-provoking themes and global recognition. On the other hand, genre fiction is supposed to be plot-driven, focused on narrow niches of readership and often snubbed by well-meaning critics.

Yet.

Is it impossible for a book to be BOTH literary and genre fiction? To bridge that gap between both readerships, both genres, both worlds?

Yes, and here are a couple of examples (genre classification is mine):

Wicked by Gregory Maguire (Literary Fantasy Retelling)

Wicked2

The Radleys by Mat Haig (Literary Vampire Book)

TheRadleys

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Literary Historical Fantasy)

ElizabethKostova-TheHistorian

How do these books bridge the gap?

– The cover: only one detail (a drop of blood, a green girl) indicates the book could belong to the fantasy genre. At a first, quick glance, a reader could think this is a literary book. The cover thus appeals to both readerships.

– The content: these books have vampires, witches and ladies in petticoats, yet both their characters and plot lines could belong in a literay book.

– The author: often, a book that bridges the gap between literary and genre fiction has been written by a writer who has published works in both genres.

– The classification: these books are hard to put in a box. Often, the marketing team in charge of promoting them has struggled to pinpoint which genre they belong to, which readership they would appeal to and which cover to give them.

So what do you think? Have you ever read a “genre book” that you felt was literary? What do you think about genres and classifications in general? Feel free to leave me a comment below and to join the discussion!