Re: RARA-AVIS: Bastard child

Date: 25 Feb 2004


Do I think about genre while writing criticism? Yes, as a critic I must, because genre (and perception of genre by readers and publishers) shapes the work. Especially in the case of Himes, who began as a "literary" novelist and progressed to the Harlem novels, questions of genre become urgent.

As a writer, I respond quite differently. Do I think of the Lew Griffin novels as crime novels? Well, yes...and no. The whole idea of those books was to create a new kind of novel, something that combined the delights of crime fiction, what I love about it, with the delights of
"literary" fiction. I'd estimate that about half my readers see them as simply novels, the other half as mysteries or crime novels. Then there are those who find them unsettling and too in-between, neither fish nor fowl....


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