Literary fiction has taken a backseat to genre fiction in the past decade. Thrillers, mysteries, suspense, romance, chick lit, gay and lesbian, science fiction, and fantasy are all making an especially strong showing in the literary marketplace. And let us not forget the new kid on the block: the graphic novel.
It is lamentable that authors such as Vonnegut, Bellow, Heller, Percy, and Updike are no longer diagnosing our spiritual malaise, and the surge in genre fiction may tell us more about society in general than the actual literary marketplace. As noted elsewhere on this site, however, one should never underestimate the power of a title within any genre to break out or develop a cult following. The Da Vinci Code, cult fiction by anyone's standard, precipitated a sharp spike in “break the code” fiction and gave birth to countless TV shows on the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail. Likewise, The Celestine Prophecy gave new energy a few years ago to metaphysical titles, rivaling the hugely successful books on near-death experiences.
In terms of cult fiction, Harry Potter gave the juvenile market a shot of literary steroids. Also, the trend of making picture books into major motion pictures continues with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Where the Wild Things Are.
The horror niche seems to be owned by the prolific Dean Koontz and Stephen King, who terminated his early retirement to write The Cell, Lisey’s Story (oddly labeled a romance), and Duma Key.
Confessions of a Shopaholic, part of a series of books about the novel's protagonist, demonstrates the strength of chick lit.
As for crime and suspense, the popularity of these genres parallels televisions amazing explosion of crime dramas and forensic shows. Readers are hooked on murder most foul as well as “malice domestic.”
Science fiction and fantasy have never really flagged in the market and have remained not only popular through the years, but sci-fi has remained quite accessible for new writers.
Good literary fiction is still published, but the best place to find it is often on the bargain table, where a wise shopper can grab a hardcover for $4.95.
About This Website
Index of Articles on This Website
What Is Cult Fiction?
Is Cult Fiction the Same as Underground Fiction?
Cult Fiction and Genre
Cult Fiction and ON THE ROAD
Cult Fiction and A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES
Moby-Dick: The Ultimate Cult Novel
John Lennon and the Mercy Street Cafe: Cult Fiction in the Making?
The Next Wave of Cult Fiction
List of Cult Fiction Classics
Cult Fiction Websites
Current Trends in Fiction
Understanding the Literary Marketplace
Emerging Writers in the Literary Marketplace
Resources for Writers
About Cat Spaulding