Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Clogs and shawls

Fiction genres are sometimes a bit bewildering, especially when they are very-locally defined. Negotiating the thin-but-lethal minefield that is the boundary between Science Fiction and Fantasy is a tricky thing, as is the argument with the reader as to whether or not that Thriller is really Crime Fiction. But it is the local genres that bemuse…

When I first started working in Rochdale Library Service I bumped into Family Sagas for the first time. I had no idea. I'm not alone, many of my colleagues had the same experience. When my partner came to work for the library service she was told to shelve the family sagas in "that bay over there."
"How do I know which are family sagas? Do they have a sticker on?" 
"No. They have a dirty-faced woman with a shawl and a baby on the cover." 
"How about this one? There's no baby." 
"She's got a dirty face and she looks sad so the baby must have died."
I think the strangest thing about this is that for twenty years you could rely on there being enough new titles with dirty-faced women and babies on the cover to keep that bay stocked up aplenty.

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