Thursday, February 09, 2012

Crime Fiction - Literary Acclaim?

I found this quote in a South African newspaper: "The critics appointed to adjudge each year’s best published work for the country's major prizes also still mainly pinch their noses when they encounter crime fiction."

And yet, many crime novels are beautifully written, complete with poetic language, themes, symbolism, foreshadowing and everything else D.H. Lawrence held dear. They make you think about current sociological issues (read any Harlan Coben thriller) and our morality (Dexter springs to mind, and yes, I know it's not a novel). They often take us to exotic places (H.F. Keating, YE Walus, Colin Cotterill).

So what gives? Is "Hamlet" not crime fiction, subgenre suspense? Did Dickens not use elements of crime fiction in "Bleak House"?

In Europe (Germany, Poland), crime fiction novels share the same bookshelf space as Tolstoy and Guenter Grass. Why is the English-speaking world so hung up on genre fiction being lesser?

Readers and critics, please feel free to respond.

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