November 22, 2019, 07:07:51 PM

Author Topic: What is "non-genre fiction"?  (Read 4213 times)

Offline Yora

What is "non-genre fiction"?
« on: September 11, 2015, 09:48:11 PM »
Apparently this is a term that exist. A category for fiction that has no genre. But how can it be a category when they have nothing in common with other fiction?
What kinds of books would be "non-genre fiction"?
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Online ScarletBea

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Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2015, 09:50:37 PM »
I think it's the everything in bookshops not in the sections of Crime, Historical Fiction or SFF ::)

Books that talk about relationships, or current life, or where nothing really happens, or travels, or...
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Offline Idlewilder

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2015, 10:27:39 PM »
I'm going to make a hash of this - I can feel it in my marrow - but here goes...

Genre fiction would typically be anything more usually plot driven that is written and marketed to fit within a specific genre, ie. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Crime, Romance.

Non-genre fiction would be anything that is less specific. More typically called 'literary' fiction it would be books that deal with specific themes, character studies, stylised forms of narrative, everyday life and the 'mundane', the philosophy of existence and how it relates to any number of things.

But any literary major would soon tell you that these lines blur more often than they are clearly distinguished. Who's really to say that the hyper stylised meta-philosophical science fantasy of China Mieville is somehow less literary than the plot driven character studies of Donna Tartt OR that the satirical genius of Terry Pratchett is any less literary than the pun-filled/fart joke filled meta-paranoid fantastical delusions of Thomas Pynchon? And yet have a look where each is shelved next time you head to the book shop.

But these labels all exist for bookshops to categorise and sell books, for publishers to market authors and create supposed oeuvres, for people like us to moan or discuss how they don't matter.

And yeah, I suppose that's my point. The differences between these labels of 'genre' and 'non-genre' are for the reader to make of them what they will in their individual relationships with each book they read. The lines are blurred for each and every one, and it's what we each make of them that's important. But in short, they don't matter.

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Offline DDRRead

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2015, 12:45:50 PM »
Ironically I think there are prolly two different 'genre' of no non-genre fiction: Literary Fiction and Mainstream Fiction.

Offline m3mnoch

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2015, 02:56:44 PM »
i picture stuff like this as non-genre fiction:
http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Literary-Fiction/zgbs/digital-text/157053011/ref=zg_bs_nav_kstore_3_157028011

basically, the kind of stuff my wife likes to read.  bleagh.  boring.  there's not even a single dragon in there.


Offline Idlewilder

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2015, 03:36:05 PM »
i picture stuff like this as non-genre fiction:
http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Literary-Fiction/zgbs/digital-text/157053011/ref=zg_bs_nav_kstore_3_157028011

basically, the kind of stuff my wife likes to read.  bleagh.  boring.  there's not even a single dragon in there.

There's at least 2 novels in there I would like to read, actually. I would be a bit miffed if someone looked at my copy of A Game of Thrones and went, pah, dragons...boring! Goes both ways this snobbery sometimes...  ;)
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2015, 05:49:47 PM »
i picture stuff like this as non-genre fiction:
http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Literary-Fiction/zgbs/digital-text/157053011/ref=zg_bs_nav_kstore_3_157028011

basically, the kind of stuff my wife likes to read.  bleagh.  boring.  there's not even a single dragon in there.

There's at least 2 novels in there I would like to read, actually. I would be a bit miffed if someone looked at my copy of A Game of Thrones and went, pah, dragons...boring! Goes both ways this snobbery sometimes...  ;)

hahahha!  totally guilty.

man, you should see some of the movies she puts in our netflix queue.  there's WAY too much triumph of the human spirit in there...

Offline Yora

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2015, 06:36:04 PM »
I also see some crime, romance, and historical novels on that list, which are all clearly genres.
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Offline Shay_Fox

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Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2016, 10:14:30 PM »
I think it's the everything in bookshops not in the sections of Crime, Historical Fiction or SFF ::)

Books that talk about relationships, or current life, or where nothing really happens, or travels, or...

Agreed with you !!

Offline NedMarcus

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2019, 12:57:31 AM »
I'm not sure that non-genre fiction really exists, even if the name does.

Offline Yora

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2019, 08:37:09 AM »
Literary fiction is a genre.
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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2019, 09:15:16 AM »
The idea that storytelling is somehow superior in some settings or formats is a deep-seated one, and in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous. I honestly don't understand why it's a discussion that needs to be had. It's as silly for lovers of SFF to scoff at 'regular' books as it is for those 'serious' readers who only read literary fiction to scoff at the idea that good storytelling isn't possible if you add SFF elements. Good and bad storytelling exist in all genres.

There's a really good article about it here.

Quoting Neil Gaiman (from the article) :
Quote
I think if you were a novelist writing in 1920 or 1930, you would simply be perceived as having written another novel. When Dickens published A Christmas Carol nobody went, “Ah, this respectable social novelist has suddenly become a fantasy novelist: look, there are ghosts and magic.”

It also references Sturgeon's law.
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Offline NedMarcus

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2019, 11:55:41 AM »
Literary fiction is a genre.
Absolutely.

Offline NedMarcus

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2019, 12:37:53 PM »
There's a really good article about it here.
You're right. It is a really good article. And a very long one! Thanks for sharing the link.

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: What is "non-genre fiction"?
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2019, 03:45:35 PM »
I used to have a flatmate who pretty much refused to read any fiction less than a hundred years old. When I stumbled across some writing on the development of more mainstream or literary fiction, I started to see his point. In the twentieth century, a lot of writers began to consciously move away from what they thought was too much of an emphasis on plot, and starting writing stories that focused mostly on character, with little plot development. Because a genre is mostly defined by specific plot beats (fantasy and Sci-Fi are more defined by their settings in my opinion, but let's skip over that for now.) This had less of an effect on genre fiction than on mainstream or 'literary' fiction.

Here's the problem. It's really hard to write a book with not much plot and actually have it work, and in my opinion, most writers can't pull it off. I've read many fantasy novels of varying quality, and never have any of them been about someone sitting in a room whining to themselves for three hundred pages. A lot of mainstream fiction these days is character studies with boring characters, so I hardly ever read it, but I can read these plot heavy nineteenth century novels no problem, even if the characters are pretty flat. Mythology has some of the oldest and most enduring stories in all of history, and the characters are often two dimensional archetypes.

I'm plot trying to say plot is more important than character, in many ways I think that's a false and unhelpful dichotomy. But for me, fantasy offers more than just imaginative monsters and magic systems I can't find elsewhere. It has epic, sweeping, important feeling stories that most mainstream fiction hasn't had for almost a century.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 11:47:27 PM by Neveesandeh »