Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not for Adults

When is a novel an adult novel, and when is it a Young Adult novel? Margo Rabb at the New York Times finds that her new book Cures for Heartbreak, written for an adult readership, apparently slips :
... across a porous border.
And she ponders the sad fact that many people seem to look down on the genre :
For me, the thrill of my book’s having been sold outlasted my confusion over its classification. Then, as the publication date approached, I received a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. One morning in the dining room, another writer asked who was publishing my book; I told her that it was Random House, and that it was being published as young adult.

“Oh, God,” she said. “That’s such a shame.”

I couldn’t get her words out of my head. I spent a lot of time worrying about whether my book would be taken seriously. I noticed the averted gazes and unabashed disinterest of literary acquaintances whenever I mentioned my novel was young adult.

Again, I wasn’t alone. “There’s an enormous level of condescension towards Y.A. writing in the literary world,” said Martha Southgate, whose first novel, “Another Way to Dance,” was Y.A. She followed it with two adult novels. “My first book often gets literally left off my bio,” she said in a telephone interview.

Mark Haddon, who wrote numerous novels for children before “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” said in an e-mail message that he recalled “a number of people looking down their noses at me when I explained what I did for a living, as if I painted watercolors of cats or performed as a clown at parties.”
Many YA novels have of course made the cross-over, classic examples being Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy, and the Harry Potter books. I really hope Margo Rabb's book does make it back over the border!

1 comment:

bookseller said...

And both Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling are raking in the dough with the YA books. Not many 'grown-up adult' book launches see that sort of marketing $ poured in to it.
Many books in young adult are not quite 'young' anyway...