Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Character literature

One of the Philly Book Geek readers, Carol, recently posted a message on the forum about compiling a list of great 21st century “character literature” (or “character fiction”).

I love the idea of this as a broad genre — a descriptor for a type of book where characters are thoroughly drawn and psychologically explored. We often think of this as being the realm of “literary fiction,” but LF is a little more specific than that. LF carries an academic air, and stories within this realm are almost always emotionally wrenching. But what about fiction that features well-rounded lead characters without that “literary” feel?

My eldest daughter has really gotten into some of Judy Blume’s work recently. Peter Hatcher, Andrew Marcus, Abigail Porter — these are all wonderfully well-developed characters, who drive narratives that are both intriguing and existentially exploratory. But I don’t know anyone who would call a book like Freckle Juice “literary.”

I’d like to see this term “character fiction” get some more play. And if it should become more universally recognized, we may consider LF a sub-genre within CF. Eh?

No comments: