(Imported from Blogger; formatting glitches to be fixed, August 2012)

Last weekend the tally of reviews for newly released literary works
was posted on this blog, and the question was posed whether “genre” books should
have been included. The response from speculative fiction authors on
Twitter was a resounding, “Yes!” Of course “genre” books should be included.

But which genres? And what do we mean by “literary” anyway?

The question is timely because, as author P.A. O’Reilly tweeted yesterday, new prizes – including  The Stella Prize – are more open to “judging the work, not the ‘genre’.” So how do we identify the literary?

According to O’Reilly, literary books “reward a second reading with another layer of meaning”. Author Claire Corbett goes further: “A literary book doesn’t give you what you demand but what you never knew you wanted.” Quality writing has subtext, according to Corbett, including non-fiction; too much writing has no subtext, she says, because such craft takes time.

Is it all a matter of craft and layers of meaning? Or are some genres more likely to be considered literary than others?

Clearly some Speculative Fiction titles have no trouble attracting the
attention of major literary awards – Corbett’s 2011
release, When We Have
Wings, for one, was shortlisted for the Barbara Jefferis award, while Meg
Mundell’s Black Glass was Highly Commended by the judges of the same award.

But what of other genres, such as crime?

When crime writer Peter Temple won the 2010 Miles Franklin
Award for his crime novel Truth, an expectation was set up that well-crafted crime novels would attract the attention of literary judges. Last year’s inclusion of Kirsten Tranter’s psychological suspense novel, The Legacy, and this year’s inclusion of Virginia Duigan’s The Precipice on the Miles Franklin longlists appear to support this view. Yet PM Newton’s
2010 – in my opinion, equally brilliant – The Old School, didn’t make the grade. Was it perhaps – being a detective novel – considered too generic?

Which crime novels released in 2012 – including detective, paranormal, YA, historical fiction, crime-romance and nonfiction titles – deserve to be considered “literary” in your view?

Crime: 2012 releases

The following books released in 2012* and reviewed for the AWW challenge between January and June this year have been divided into subgenres:

  • general/thriller/psychological suspense
  • historical fiction
  • crime/romance (sometimes referred to as “romantic suspense”)
  • crime/paranormal
  • YA/Children’s and
  • True Crime.

*Disclaimer: The release dates on publishers’ website don’t always
accurately reflect the year when the book was first published. If there are any errors, please let me know. EL

Tally: 18 books, 25 reviewers, 43 reviews, 10 publishers.

Publishers: Penguin: 4 books, 10 reviews; Random House: 3 book 7 reviews; ClanDestine Press: 3 books, 3 reviews; HarperCollins: 2 books, 5 reviews; Hachette: 1 book 6 reviews; Pan MacMillan: 1 book, 4 reviews; Pantera Press: 1 book, 3 reviews; Black Opal: 1 book, 1 review; EgmontUSA: 1 book, 1 review; Walker Books: 1 book, 1 review.

General/Thriller/Psychological Suspense

Historical Fiction




True Crime

Short Stories

~ ~ ~

Guest author reviews

Of the above authors, Jaye Ford, Katherine Howell, YA Erskine and Helene Young have all reviewed for the challenge (that’s why the covers of their recent releases are featured here).

Helene has written multiple reviews, including:

Do you think any of the above books deserves to be regarded as “literary”? Do you know of any other crime books released this year that haven’t been
reviewed for the challenge so far?

Other crime titles (some not reviewed during January-June period of tally):