The Genre-lization of Literature

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I’ve been a part of a discussion on GoodReads about how fiction is expected to fit into a specific genre in today’s book market.  Publishers, and readers, seem to want their books to neatly fit into a category.  I guess because people generally like to read specific categories.  I do it.  I like science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalypse, and mysteries, even though I will step outside those genres from time to time.  It’s easier to search the tens of thousands of books in specific genres than to search the millions of books that are available.

But what happens when a book doesn’t fit nicely into a specific genre, or just one genre.  I seem to have that problem.  The books in the Lions and Lambs Saga are sort of YA.  The main character starts out at 15 years old, but the story progresses over multiple years.  He will end up at 21 years old by the end of the third book and will be older if the series goes beyond that.  They are post-apocalyptic, but the story begins just before the apocalypse, so they are more apocalyptic than post, at least to begin with.  They are realistic fiction.  The setting is current day, there are no fantasy or magical elements, the events are realistic in nature.  They are also literary fiction, offering commentary on social issues.  They are a character study.  The main character has to struggle with his own perceived inadequacies (self-doubt, fear, cowardice, moral corruption) in order to not only survive the situation, but to also help others to survive.  How do you classify a story like this?  How do you find the right audience?  These are questions I have yet to answer.

Maybe someone smarter than me can offer some suggestions.


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