Saturday, 3 March 2012

A quick post on genre titles

In thinking about women's representation in the literary world - and the commercial world - we really badly need a better genre title than "chick lit". ("Commercial Women's Fiction" as Anita Heiss' work was described at Write Around the Murray last year, just doesn't quite cut it.)


ETA: So now there's a post about this on - well, not on the name of chick lit but whether one should feel ashamed of reading it.  Which, on the one hand I understand - I've written about my enjoyment of romance fiction, but not about the fact that my girlfriend has a tendency to tease me about every romance I read.  On the other, I've read girl's school stories on the Melbourne trams, without hiding the book cover.  I have little sympathy for the publication of "adult" covers for John Marsden's' "Tomorrow" series and the "Harry Potter" books.  I have a high tolerance for public comment on my reading tastes.


  1. Good question! And I agree, on both counts. Chick Lit sounds trivialising, if not demeaning (although Lisa Walker, author of Liar Bird, tweeted this week that she has started to embrace it), and "Commercial Women's Fiction" is cumbersome.

    What's a snappy but respectful alternative?

  2. I think this is a really good point and one that should be part of the discussion on Thursday night because unfortunately in the world of commerce and marketing - labels sell. I write fiction that I know appeals to females and males of many ages over about 15, so I'm not sure how I would label it. Even the more non-sexist term 'literary fiction' is problematic as it can put up a barrier to reading very accessible beautifully written stories. I know these comments don't answer the question. Perhaps it's one to put to my marketing class on Tuesday night!

  3. Good question. It's got my brain spinning but no answers. Maybe it needs to be a verb, something traditionally associated with women. "Un-aproned fiction" is not a serious suggestion, but something like that: women stepping out, exploring the world.

  4. One of the alternatives I was thinking of was 'Life Lit', after all, these books are usually about women's lives, or some kind of change to their everyday life.
    There was a lively discussion on Dianne Blacklock's blog a while back about this topic, and someone came up with ficSHEn as anotehr alternative.

  5. Thanks, Juliet - I'll have to look that Dianne Blacklock post up. Apart from anything else, she'll be visiting the library where I work later this year.

    My issue with "chick lit" is that, like "chick flick", it's dismissive. I know I've missed a lot of the discussion on twitter, and that's such a pity. Can I put this down to a busy weekend?

    I'm still pondering this, and as Robyne7 points out, we've got the Stella Prize/IWD discussion panel still to come this Thursday. I'm going to keep on a-pondering this one. And thanks for all the thoughts so far. Keep 'em coming!

  6. Contemporary Fiction works for me, after all these are in the main, stories about contemporary life and issues and I don't think the necessarily have to be defined by gender

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  7. I'm beginning to think that "contemporary fiction" works for me, too. I haven't yet got around to doing my random shelf review to see what happens, but I certainly like your suggestion. Thanks for your contribution.