(Originally posted on Blogger)

In the past week, this blog has posted several lists of reviews written by participants in the Australian Women Writers challenge of books released this year (2012). These lists have been organised as follows:

  • Literary works (including some nonfiction)
  • Crime
  • Speculative Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal/Sci-Fi
  • Historical Fiction
  • Memoir/Biography/History
  • Romance/novels with “romantic elements”
  • Contemporary/Popular/Mainstream/Women’s Fiction

The intention wasn’t to exclude books from the “literary” category. Rather it was to organise titles so readers could find reviews of books that were likely to interest them, and to invite challenge participants to identify books of literary merit which deserve to be regarded as possible future prize winners, despite having “generic” qualities. (This is in keeping with The Stella Prize’s aim of including a wider net than what some might deem purely “literary”.)

Bookbloggers and publishers were approached for their views on which books they consider literary; invitations for readers and authors to comment were posted on Twitter, Facebook and in the list posts themselves. The aim was to try to identify and include many more books than those published by recognisable literary imprints.

Despite these efforts, some books slipped through the net and at least one author expressed dismay at having her book connected to the label “women’s fiction”.

My apologies. It’s an imperfect system, but it’s by far from being prescriptive. It’s open to correction and relies on community input. If there are any other titles that should go on the “literary” page, please let me know.

On another point of contention: an author of Young Adult (YA) fiction commented a while ago on the blog, expressing bemusement as to why YA books appear on a separate tab on this website. Many YA books have more in common with the various genres listed above than with each other, and appeal to adult as well as young adult audiences. With this in mind, rather than compiling a separate list of YA books, I ask YA authors and readers to nominate which tally recent (2012) YA releases should appear on. If you can help, please add your comment.

Just for the record. Paddy O’Reilly has accepted an invitation to write a blog post for AWW explaining why she objects to the label “women’s fiction”. I’ll keep you posted.