Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

September choice, Binti

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message 1: by Rosie (new)

Rosie | 3 comments I am certain the author is a very nice person, but this is a NOVELLA, not a novel, and an sf/fantasy book, not literary fiction (even if a Hugo winner). I also suspect it is a YA level. Why has the group gone so far off topic? I joined this group to get away from sf/fantasy and YA books.

message 2: by Lata (new)

Lata | 293 comments This is an excellent article about Binti the book and Binti the series:

message 3: by Adrienna (new)

Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 695 comments Why is that Rosie? I know the book club I run at work in the library, we tend to read literature out of our comfort zone, and learn new things to converse among the group. I wonder how book clubs select books even to consider for voting.

message 4: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2018 11:19AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Rosie, a couple of thoughts.

First, you always have the option of DMing a group mod if something in this or any group on GR is concerning to you. Not that there’s anything wrong with setting up a new thread to express frustration, but you might get a response that reflects an offline mod discussion or the like and you might receive a personal response more quickly.

Second, majority vote rules in our group read selections, so many readers of literary fiction wanted to read Binti, and more wanted to read it than the alternatives. I was one of those. The author is one I haven’t read. I generally also eschew sci-fi and YA, and as a result I hadn’t read a highly acclaimed novel by this female author. I determined to stretch my reading limits and vote for Binti, knowing that I am more likely to follow through and read it because the quality of discussions in this group is high and holds my interest.

Often the winning group book isn’t one I like. The fact that voters select a book that fails to intrigue me doesn’t mean the group, mods, or members are going off-topic; it means we’re exactly the diverse group of readers I sought to join, and that we are blessed to have a world full of authors of color writing literary fiction of widely varying themes, approaches and genres from which to choose.


message 5: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
Every one of you have brought up some very interesting and great points. I wonder if this is something we should vote on? Some of the new (and even some older) sci-fi/fantasy novels, sort of blur the lines to what is literary fiction and what is genre fiction. Most or many would think the sci-fi/fantasy titles would fall under the latter category, exclusively.

As many of you know, I eschew anything that falls under the sci-fi umbrella at all cost. I run far away from it and always have. Never liked it. I decided to read the Binti trilogy only because this fantastic group of well-read, discerning readers chose it and because of the plethora of awards bestowed on it. I’ve since read the first two novellas in the series and while it hasn’t totally changed my mind about the genre, I’m really glad I read it. I’m now stoked to read the final book in this trilogy and find out what happens next. The quality of the writing here and the themes it explores are absolutely exquisite, first rate and much of it is quite complex. I still have questions about what’s going on in much of this. But I’m looking forward to this discussion for the members to help me sort some of this out.

But, it is considered genre fiction for the most part and it is a novella. Someone (jo?) brought up either/or removing the book, discussing the entire series or adding another book. No one fully answered the question, so, because it’s a series comprised of roughly 300 pages, I just went ahead and included the full series. Binti, the first in the series, is the primary book to discuss but the other two are included as well.

We had a moderators choice month where the moderator would select ANY literary Non-Fiction, Poetry, Fiction book by a POC and at the moderators discretion. Maybe that’s where we can add genre fiction? That’s been over a year in a half ago so we’re overdue for another one I would think. I don’t know, just throwing things out there.

Any thoughts?

message 6: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
Maybe if we have questions about this it might be a good idea to make a decision sooner rather than later. Just looked at the current poll and there’s both a sci-fi and another novella.

message 7: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments The conversation about what is or is not literary fiction has been raised frequently over the life of this group. There is never any consensus on the definition. In my opinion, Nnedi Okorafor has written literary fiction (Who Fears Death, for example), YA books (Akata Witch, etc.) and books that straddle the two, like Binti. She has stated that Binti is NOT a YA book.

For me, the easier question is about novellas. My own preference would be to avoid novellas for the monthly selections, particularly since we now have Buddy Reads where they can be read and discussed easily.

I do believe that literary fiction can include books of any genre, including science fiction and fantasy. I would, without question, call N.K. Jemisin's books literary fiction. On the other hand, another SFF book that I loved, Children of Blood and Bone is definitely YA. People have a variety of opinions on where the line is drawn. I would hate to see all SFF books - or all mystery books or ay other genre - excluded on that basis.

message 8: by Lata (new)

Lata | 293 comments Binti definitely has a literary feel, even while being speculative fiction. There is nothing to say that just because something is speculative that it is not literary also.
And Binti is just a damn fine book and series.

message 9: by William (last edited Aug 26, 2018 02:49PM) (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1326 comments Mod
I say let the members decide which is just what the polls are doing now. No Sci-fi? No Octavia Butler, T. Due , N Okorafor or Jemisin? Their work is not "literary" but this months selection is? Who writes or more important here is, who imposes these rules? Perhaps a Sci fi only month would work if the members decide on that route.

message 10: by Monica (last edited Aug 26, 2018 04:49PM) (new)

Monica (monicae) | 495 comments Interesting discussion. Personally i have absolutely no problem w/ the content of the polls etc. I think its appropriate and in fact important to blend genres. This club has exposed me to many authors in genres i might not otherwise read. I always thought the purpose of the group was more about exposure to authors of color who write great books. I've never though that the books had to fit a certain category even YA (which in general i dislike). I don't always want to read the monthly selections in any of my bookclubs. When i don't like it, i pass on the book that month. I don't necessarily think there is something wrong with its selection. As an aside, I do like science fiction a lot. And Jemisin, Okorafor, Mosley, Butler etc are producing/have produced some of the best reads out there scifi or not. This club helped me realize that I'm pretty fond of literary and contemporary fiction as well as surprisingly...poetry. Who knew!?! Not me ;-)

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