Monday, March 19, 2007

Urban fiction...so that's what it's called

Sugar Shack by Ernie Barnes
Urban fiction. Hip hop fiction. Gangsta literature. Ghetto lit. Street lit. What once had no formal definition now has many names. Urban fiction is defined by its location of the urban environment and its subject matter of poverty, racism, gangs, drugs and prostitution. The characters are African American or sometimes Latino who speak in the tough vernacular of street speak. Thus Mary Monroe and Terry McMillan do not write urban fiction; Terri Woods and Iceberg Slim do write urban fiction.

Urban fiction was never really considered legitimate literature and was not taken seriously by publishers. This changed when Terri Woods began selling copies of her book True to the Game (1994) out of the trunk of her car, and word of mouth helped the book sell more than 200,000 copies.

Since then urban fiction has been flying off the shelves. Provocative covers and exciting plot lines attract scores of readers. I've worked in the Fiction Department for eight years and have seen its popularity steadily increase. It doesn’t look like it's slowing down any time soon.

Urban fiction started with Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines in the 70's, followed by Sister Souljah in the 80's with The Coldest Winter Ever, and now these writers who are carrying on the tradition:


Link:

Novelist (library card is required; search by key word "urban fiction" for a list of titles)

1 comment:

Ondrej from Good Books to Read said...

Looks like an interesting genre, I might even write a post about it... thanks for inspiration!