Tournament of Books 2015 had begun, and a few of the conversations generated on Monday got me to thinking… Are ALL books worthy of a critical eye, or do only “literary” books make the cut?
This came up because of the discussion of Adam, by Ariel Schrag versus The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. The first, a contemporary novel, that many believed to be from the young adult genre – although it, in fact, isn’t – and the second, a literary tome from a highly regarded author. Both the Tournament judges, as well as other sources I came across, gave the critical eye to The Bone Clocks, ripping it apart detail by detail, whereas towards Adam, a highly controversial book in its portrayal, with endless topics for dissection, the comments were along the lines of “whatever, I liked it,” “it was funny,” or “it was easy to read.” I read several comments, as well as heard on a podcast, that the reader didn’t take Adam seriously, because it was YA (which, again, it isn’t). This is not going to be a post about why I hated Adam, but used more as a conversation starter.
Does a book deserve to not be taken seriously or considered critically just because it comes from a certain genre? I read YA from time to time, and don’t think simply because a book is classified as YA (or fantasy, or whatever genre) it shouldn’t be discussed in any literary way. Disregarding a book based on genre alone, does an injustice to the book itself, as well as any of the interesting or thought-provoking topics it presents.
Sure, are there poorly written YA novels? Of course. But, are there poorly written adult literary fiction novels, or memoirs, or science fiction, or books by otherwise critically-acclaimed authors…? YES.
And really now, who decides on what genre a book fits into? Publishers? Authors? Booksellers? Readers? Marketing?
What do you think readers? Do you think it’s fair to disregard a book simply based on genre alone? Are true “literary” books the only ones worthy of a critical discussion?