Category Archives: literary genres

Genres of Literature – Cli-Fi


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The literary genre climate fiction is commonly known as Cli-Fi. The narratives deal with climate-change and global warming, although not necessarily speculative in nature the narratives center on the world as we know it or in the near future. In essence it is an off-shoot of eco-fiction addressing the effects of climate change in short stories or novels.

 

Although the term “cli-fi” came into use in the late 2000s to describe novels dealing with man-made climate change, it is certainly not a ‘new’ literary topic as natural disasters have been themes to novels in the past. For example Jules Verne’s The Purchase of the North Pole in 1889 relates to a change due to the Earth’s axis tilting. His Paris in the Twentieth Century, written in 1883, relays a sudden drop in temperature lasting three years in a titular city. J.G. Ballard used persistent hurricane-force winds in The Wind from Nowhere in 1961 and melted ice-caps and rising sea-levels caused by solar radiation in The Drowned World in 1962 (somewhat of a prophecy!)

This genre has grown as scientific knowledge of the effects of fossil fuel consumption and resulting increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations has become the global warming phenomenon.

Other novels include Susan M. Gaine’s Carbon Dreams, Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx & Crake, the Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.

Have you written Cli-fi?

Did you know of this genre before today?

 

Genres of Literature – Grotesque


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The Grotesque is often linked with satire and tragicomedy, in which the author conveys grief and pain to the audience. The term was first used to denote a literary genre with Montaigne’s Essays. Many of the earliest written texts described grotesque happenings and monstrous creatures within mythology, which was of course a rich source of monsters. Examples, such as the one-eyed Cyclops from Hesiod’s Theogony or Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where we find grotesque transformations and hybrid creatures of myth. 

This genre was a departure from the classical models of order, reason, harmony, balance and form, opening up an entry into grotesque worlds. British literature abounds with native grotesquerie, from the strange worlds of Spenser’s allegory in The Faerie Queene, to the tragi-comic modes of 16th-century drama. 

Occasionally, literary works of mixed genre are termed grotesque, such as “low” or non-literary genres such as pantomime and farce. Gothic writings often have grotesque components such as character, style and location while other describe the environment as grotesque. Examples being urban (Charles Dickens), or American south literature,  termed as “Southern Gothic”. Other grotesque uses have been social and cultural formations, such as the carnival(-esque) in François Rabelais and Mikhail Bakhtin. Or in satirical writings of the 18th century, such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Thereby fictional characters are considered grotesque if they induce both empathy and disgust by way of physically deformity or mental deficiency, but also if the character has cringe-worthy social traits. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the figure of Caliban inspired more nuanced reactions than simple scorn and disgust. Also, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the character of Gollum may be considered to have both disgusting and empathetic qualities, which fit him into the grotesque template.

One of the most celebrated grotesques in literature is Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and of course Dr. Frankenstein’s monster can also be considered a grotesque, although he is presented more sympathetically as the outsider who is the victim of society’s alienation as they describe him as  ‘the creature.’

There are also examples of grotesque literature during the nineteenth-century, however the grotesque body was displaced by the notion of congenital deformity or medical anomaly.  And more in terms of deformity and disability, especially after the First World War, 1914-18. The growth of prosthetic’s created themes of half-mechanical men and became an important theme in dadaist work.

You may be surprise to know that Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is deemed grotesque literature due to the many fantastic grotesque figures she meets. However, Carroll managed to make the figures seem less frightful and fit for children’s literature.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Have you written grotesque fiction?

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Genres of Literature – Urban Fiction


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Urban fiction is also known as street lit or street friction and is set in city landscapes. However, it is defined by the narrative’s content of soci-economic realities and culture of its characters as well as the urban setting. This genre is usually dark in tone with explicit violence, sex and profanity and is commonly drawn from the author’s own experiences. Largely written by African American authors, this genre covers the separation of their particular community and culture and the life experiences of its characters in inner-cities.

Earlier urban literature depicted low-income survivalist realities of city living, these included Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1838), Stephen Crane’s Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (1893) and Langston Hughes’ The Ballard of the Landlord (1940). These narratives did not just relay African American or Latino experiences but stories of diverse cultural and ethnic experiences.

In 1999 Sister Souljah’s narrative The Coldest Winter became a bestseller and with Teri Wood’s True to the Game there became a standard for entrepreneurial publishing and distribution of contemporary urban fiction.

Urban fiction has experienced a renaissance from 2000 boasting thousands of titles, which include the new Latino fiction novels. There is also a literary wave of hip-hop fiction and street lit, which take a more literary approach using metaphor, signifying and other literary devices. These books are also used for socially redeeming or classroom capacities, while maintaining love and positive outlooks.

In recent years, some urban fiction authors have joined with hip hop artists such as 50 Cent to further promote the genre by penning the musicians’ real-life stories.

Have you written urban fiction?

Have you read urban fiction?

 

Genres of Literature – Crime Fiction


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Crime fiction fictionalizes a multiple of crimes from murder to kidnapping to extortion. The narratives relay how the criminal gets caught, and the repercussions of the crime as well as their detection, the criminals, and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction such as historical fiction or science fiction, however, the boundaries are indistinct. Crime fiction has multiple sub-genres which include detective fiction or whodunits. courtroom dramas, hard-boiled fiction and legal thrillers.  Most crime fiction deals with the crime’s investigation rather than the court room. Suspense and mystery are key elements nearly ubiquitous to the genre. 

Crime Fiction was recognized as a distinct literary genre in the 19th century with specialists writers and a devoted readership. Earlier novels typically did not have the modern systematic attempts at detection: with no detective or indeed police trying to solve the case but rather more mystery in context. Such as a ghost story, a horror story, or a revenge story. The ‘locked room; mystery was a precursor to the detective stories. The most famous of course is Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, whose mental deductions and astute observations led him to the culprits. Two other notable authors in this ‘new’ genre were Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers.  

 

  • Detective fiction
  • Cozy Mystery
  • Whodunit
  • Historical whodunit
  • Locked room whodunit
  • Locked room mystery
  • Police procedural
  • Forensic
  • Legal thriller
  • Spy novel
  • Caper story
  • Psychological thriller
  • Parody or spoof

Each one commonly has a lot of suspense, hidden clues, a charismatic detective and an elusive criminal. The genre continues to develop with character analysis, covering specific themes, LGBT crimes and police investigation themes.

Have you written crime fiction? 

Which sub-genre do you write?

Why not share a link?

 

Genres of Literature – Graphic Novels


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The definition of a graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. However, the term is not strictly defined, though Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition is “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book”, while its simplest definition is given as “cartoon drawings that tell a story and are published as a book”

Obviously, some will say these are not ‘novels’ in the traditional sense at all. One such author, Alan Moore believed: “It’s a marketing term…that I never had any sympathy with. The term ‘comic’ does just as well for me…The problem is that ‘graphic novel’ just came to mean ‘expensive comic book’ and so what you’d get is people like DC Comics or Marvel Comics – because ‘graphic novels’ were getting some attention, they’d stick six issues under a glossy cover and called it graphic novel under the action hero’s name.

However, the term ‘graphic novel’ is broadly applied to include non-fiction, anthologized and fiction works and is distinguished from the term ‘comic book’, as this refers to comic periodicals. 

Richard Kyle, a fan historian coined the term ‘graphic novel’ in 1964 and the term gained popularity in the comic community from 1978 and especially with the start of the Marvel graphic novel line in 1982. The book industry began using ‘graphic novel’ as a book shelf category in 2001. Most comics historians agree that the first real ‘graphic novel’ was Will Eisner’s A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories published in 1978. Decidedly adult in its images, themes, and language, Eisner’s book spoke to the generation that had first grown up with superhero comics in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

I found a fascinating link regarding the history of graphic novels. Take a look: http://libguides.marymede.vic.edu.au/graphic_novels/history