A Better Way to Think About the Genre Debate

by Rachel Baker on November 11, 2014

This is pretty a pretty interesting article on genre and a different way to think about the genre debate that is going on right now. Its worth the read.

Read more: A Better Way to Think About the Genre Debate

Last month, when the fiction finalists for the National Book Awards were announced, one stood out from the rest: “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel. While the other nominated books are what, nowadays, we call “literary fiction,” “Station Eleven” is set in a familiar genre universe, in which a pandemic has destroyed civilization. The twist—the thing that makes “Station Eleven” National Book Award material—is that the survivors are artists.

Mandel’s book cuts back and forth between the present, when the outbreak is unfolding, and a post-apocalyptic future, when the survivors are beginning to rebuild. In the present, actors are putting on a production of “King Lear,” and a woman is writing and illustrating her own comic book—a mournful science-fiction story set on a malfunctioning, planet-sized spaceship called Station Eleven. (The comic book sounded so interesting that I searched for it on Amazon—unfortunately, it’s fictional.) Meanwhile, in the future, a group of survivors have formed the Travelling Symphony, a wagon train that travels the wasteland, performing Shakespeare and Vivaldi in the parking lots of looted Walmarts. (“People want what was best about the world,” one man says.) Eventually, past and present converge: a few issues of the comic book outlive the chaos, and end up influencing the survivors just as much as “Lear” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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