The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Ursula K. Le Guin talks to Michael Cunningham about genres, gender, and broadening fiction

Cunningham: “Could you talk about…the breaking-down of the barriers between ‘genre’ books and the books that are generally piled on the front tables at Barnes & Noble?  This is especially important to me, in that I’m always trying to talk readers into venturing into genre fiction, and still encounter a surprising degree of resistance. The line, ‘I don’t read science fiction’ emanates from a surprising number of well-educated, erudite mouths.”

LeGuin: “Well, you’ve said much of what I’d have said, and I’m delighted to hear it said by a writer whose fame is not within a ‘genre’ but in what is still called literary fiction.

“And that, of course, is the lingering problem: The maintenance of an arbitrary division between ‘literature’ and ‘genre,’ the refusal to admit that every piece of fiction belongs to a genre, or several of genres.”

Fascinating discussion for readers who select genre fiction and for readers and writers who don’t want to be constrained by the labels.

–Malcolm

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