There’s been a lot of news lately about gender issues (brava to Caitlyn Jenner, right?), and I’ve also seen (thanks to an FB friend posting an article) some discussion on genre bending.
Specifically, the article was an interview between Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro where they discuss genres, what it means to have a book categorized in a particular genre, and what it’s like to have your book’s genre “class” debated.
What struck me as interesting was that Ishiguro did not see his latest book, The Buried Giant, as fantasy. In his mind, the book was literary fiction, despite having magic, fable, and ogres. He was (it seems) genuinely surprised at his book being labeled fantasy.
Writers are always asked what genre their book is. It’s important to know, not only for following “the rules,” for marketing, and for sales. Anyone who follows Amazon categories knows the genre classification is a big deal when it comes to rankings.
But it can be confusing!
Sometimes books fit in multiple genres.
For example, the book I just finished reading yesterday, The Book of Laney by Myfanwy Collins, is, accurately, labeled as young adult. The protagonist is (almost) sixteen. The book is contemporary, meaning it deals with real life issues. No magic, fantastical creatures, or paranormalness allowed. And then the protagonist starts having visions. It sort of made me do a double take. Was this paranormal after all? Was this foreshadowing of a mental breakdown? Was this an example of magic realism?
Even after finishing the book I am not sure.
Perhaps, genres, like genders, should be seen as more fluid creatures. They both can certainly be complicated, and what one person sees as a certain genre or gender, can be seen differently by another. Maybe genres and genders can’t always be classified by such concrete, rigid terms.
Hmmm, perhaps I’m blending too much together here, but I dunno, it’s just how my mind works.
How about you? How do you see genres?