(Imported from Blogger; formatting glitches need to be fixed)
When the call went out last November for recommendations of “popular” novels by Australian Women Writers, book bloggers recommended far fewer books in this category than for “literary”, Speculative Fiction/Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Crime and Romance. Yet recent mainstream contemporary fiction has generated the greatest number of reviews for the challenge so far.
But which books should go where?
In attempting to answer this question I found myself grappling with several more questions.
What’s the best way to recognise “contemporary women’s fiction”? Is this type of fiction “popular”, easy reads, whereas literary fiction is more demanding? Or should a “contemporary” list include literary novels? What about lighter books, commonly known as “Chick Lit”? Should these be counted as a separate sub-genre?
Most contentiously of all, what about novels that focus on the domestic relationship between two people? If it ends happily, or happily for now, should it be considered “romance”, while relationships with a less obvious sense of closure be regarded either as literary or mainstream?
Behind all these questions looms an even larger one. If we let book publishers’ and sellers’ marketing decisions dictate how we categorise books, do we run the risk of making books of literary merit that are “generic” or “popular” in nature less visible to those compiling long lists for literary awards? Equally, do we risk marginalising the “literary”?
In consultation with writers and reviewers on Twitter, I’ve decided to include here novels labelled by reviewers as “chick lit”, as well as books marketed as “rural fiction”, even though some of these novels may include a courtship (which arguably makes them “romance” or books with “romantic elements”). New releases which obviously fall into a generic category such as Fantasy/Speculative Fiction/Sci-Fi, Crime and Romance (where the focus is on the courtship to the virtual exclusion of all other story), as well as books with a historical setting* and those marketed as “literary”, have been tallied elsewhere.
Arguably, though, all are “contemporary” fiction.
Disclaimer: I’ve only read a fraction of these books and only skimmed many of the reviews. Putting the reviews into a format that helps readers looking for recent titles by Australian women – rather than having them try to decipher the Mr Linky boxes of reviews posted on the AWW challenge page – has taken a great deal of time and effort. If some authors object to having their books categorised as “popular” or “women’s fiction”, instead of “literary”, my apologies. Same goes for authors listed previously as “literary” who believe their books also belong here. Any mistakes will gladly be rectified. EL
Tally: 37 books, 90 reviews, 40 reviewers, 12 publishers.
Publishers: Allen & Unwin (9 books, 20 reviews); Random House (9 books, 25 reviews);Hachette (2 books, 5 reviews); Pan Macmillan (2 books, 5 reviews); HarperCollins (3 books, 10 reviews); Penguin (7 books, 16 reviews); Harlequin (3 book, 10 reviews); Simon & Schuster (1 book, 1 review); Indigo Dreams* (1 book, 2 reviews); Joshua Books* (1 book, 1 review); Even Before Publishing* (1 book.1 review).
NB: It’s unclear whether the publishers marked * are independent small presses or vehicles for self-publication.
- Adlerstein, Marion von – The Freudian Slip (Hachette)
Lisa Walker, Stephanie McGlinchey
- Ahearn, Ali & Ros Baxter – Sister Pact (HarperCollins)
Tarran Jones Collins Booksellers Edwardstown
- Amin, Manisha Jolie – Dancing to the Flute (Allen & Unwin)
- Booth, Alison – The Indigo Sky. (Random House) – sequel
- Dharmapala, Su – The Wedding Season (Simon & Schuster)
Steph @ RIASS
- Duncan, Susan The Briny Café. (Random House)
- Evans, Tess – The Memory Tree. (Allen & Unwin)
Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out
- Fedler, Joanne – The Reunion (Allen & Unwin)
Monique @WriteNoteReviews, Shelleyrae @Book’dOut
- Foster, Zoe – The Younger Man (Penguin/Michael Joseph) ChickLit
- Groff , Maggie – Mad Men, Bad Girls & Guerrilla Knitters Institute (Pan Macmillan)
Lisa Walker, Book’d Out, Heather Contemp Myst/Humour
- Ham, Rosalie – There Should Be More Dancing (Random House)
Coleen Kwan, My Journal, JudiJ
- Higgins, Fiona – The Mothers’ Group (Allen & Unwin)
Phillip A. Ellis, Bree @1girl2manybooks, YA Erskine, Monique @ Write Note, Helen
- Lane, Karly – Morgan’s Law Allen & Unwin Rural Fiction
Bree @1girl2manybooks, Shelleyrae @Book’dOut
- Lette , Kathy – The Boy who fell to Earth (Random House)
- Limerick, Louise – Lucinda’s Whirlwind (Pan Macmillan)
Book’d Out, AustBookshelf
- MacDonald, Fleur – Purple Roads Allen & Unwin Rural Fiction
AustBookshelf, @Book’d Out
- McCallum, Fiona – Wattle Creek Harlequin
Book’d Out, AustBookshelf, Bree @1girl2manybooks
- McIntosh, Fiona – Lavender Keeper (Penguin)
Tarran @ Collins Booksellers, Bree 1girl2manybooks, Book’d Out
- McKenna, Helen – The Beach House (Joshua Books)
Olivia (Indie published?)
- McNamara, Catherine – A divorced lady’s companion to living in Italy (Indigo Dreams Publishing) Contemp/Chick Lit
Whispering Gums, C Powell
- Magro, Mandy – Jacaranda (Penguin) Rural Fiction
- Marinelli, Carol – Putting Alice Back Together (Harlequin)
Marg, Shelleyrae@Book’dOut, R Johns
- Moriarty, Nicola – Free Falling (Random House)
Bree: review and interview, Stephanie @RIASS Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out Contemp/RomCom
- Nunn, Judy – Tiger Men (Random House)
Jacqui @MyJournal Saga/Contemp Fiction
- Osborn, Margareta – Bella’s Run Random House Rural Fiction
Lisa Chappel, Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out, RIASS, Brenda, R Johns
- Palmer, Fiona – The Road Home Penguin Rural Fiction
AustBookshelf, Brenda, Bree @1girl2manybooks, Shelleyrae @ Book’d
- Rennie, AnnMcCullagh – Under Southern Skies Penguin
VeganYANerds, Breen @1girl2manybooks,
Paula Rural Fiction 2011
- Richell, Hannah – Secrets of the Tides (Hachette)
Jon Page, Stephanie @ RIASS ContFic/Saga
- Scoullar, Jennifer – Brumby’s Run Penguin
- Stedman, ML – The Light Between Oceans (Random House)*
Stephanie @ RIASS, Peta-Jo, Book’d Out
- Trope, Nicole – The Boy Under the Table (Allen & Unwin)*
@ Book’d Out
- Walker, Lisa – Liar Bird. (HarperCollins) ChickLit
Bree @1girl2manybooks, Marg, Kate Cuthbert
- Wanmer, Jo – Though the Bud Be Bruised (Even Before Publishing)
Michelle Dennis Evans
* Shelleyrae of Book’d Out suggests both M L Stedman’s The Light Between
Oceans and Nicole Trope’s The Boy Under the Table should also be
included in the tally of “historical fiction“, but as that wasn’t obvious to me from my cursory glance at the reviews, they were included here.
Post modified: title and summary paragraph deleted (22/7/12).
Are there any other authors who would prefer not to have their books on this list?