- Chick lit
Chick lit is genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly. The genre sold well during the 1990s and 2000s, with chick lit titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to chick lit. Although it sometimes includes romantic elements, chick lit is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because the heroine's relationship with her family or friends is often just as important as her romantic relationships.
According to professor Suzanne Ferris, chick lit often features hip, stylish, career-driven female protagonists, usually in their twenties and thirties. The women featured in these novels may be obsessed with appearance or have a passion for shopping, e.g. Carrie Bradshaw, the protagonist of Sex and the City.
However, this has been disputed. In Publishers Weekly, Amy Sohn redefines the genre as being about women who can stand on their own two feet. This same article refutes the previous stereotypes. Library Journal also states that ethnic chick lit counts in the definition, mommy lit, and other sub sub genres which don't include the 20-30-something protagonist who is worried about shopping, boys and sex.
To define the genre in the most general way, chick lit features a female protagonist whose womanhood is heavily thematized in the plot. Though most often set in a contemporary world, such as in Waiting to Exhale, there is also historical chick lit. The issues dealt with are often more serious than consumerism. Marian Keyes's Watermelon, for instance, features a protagonist who wrestles with how to be a mother in a modern world, and there is a growing market for religious chick lit. As with other types of genre fiction, authors and publishers target many niche markets. Protagonists vary widely in ethnicity, age, social status, marital status, career, and religion.
Origins of the term
The term appeared in print as early as 1988 as college slang for a course titled "female literary tradition." In 1995, Cris Mazza and Jeffrey DeShell used the term as an ironic title for their edited anthology Chick Lit: Postfeminist Fiction. The genre was defined as a type of post-feminist or second-wave feminism that went beyond female-as-victim to include fiction that covered the breadth of female experiences, including love, courtship and gender. The collection emphasized experimental work, including violent, perverse and sexual themes. James Wolcott's 1996 article in The New Yorker, "Hear Me Purr", co-opted the term "chick lit" to proscribe what he called the trend of "girlishness" evident in the writing of female newspaper columnists at that time. Works such as Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City are examples of such work that helped establish contemporary connotations of the term. The success of Bridget Jones and Sex and the City in book form established chick lit as an important trend in publishing. The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank are regarded as one of the first chick lit works to originate as a novel (actually a collection of stories), though the term "chick lit" was in common use at the time of its publication (1999). Serena Mackesy's The Temp appeared in the same year.
Publishers continue to push the sub-genre because of its viability as a sales tactic. Various other terms have been coined as variant in attempts to attach themselves to the perceived marketability of the work. Publishers Weekly editor Sara Nelson suggested in 2008 that the definition of what's considered to be within the genre of chick lit has become more accomplished and "grown up".
Examples of chick lit
For examples of chick-lit novels see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Chick_lit_novels
- ^ a b c In the Classroom or In the Bedroom Chick Lit: The New Woman’s Fiction. Edited by Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young. Routledge Publishing, 2005. 288 pages. Trade Paperback. Reviewed by Jessica Lynice Hooten.
- ^ "What's in a Name?". Publishers Weekly. July 2, 2001. http://www.publishersweekly.com/index.asp?layout=article&articleId=CA91257&display=searchResults. Retrieved 2007-04-30 [dead link]
- ^ [dead link]
- ^ a b "Collection Development "Chick Lit": Hip Lit for Hip Chicks". Libraryjournal.com. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA623004.html. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- ^ Don M. Betterton, Alma mater : unusual stories and little-known facts from America's college campuses, Peterson's Guides, Princeton, N.J. (1988); p. 113 ISBN 087866579X : 9780878665792
- ^ Melissa Bank's Salon Interview
- ^ Olivia Barker (May 29, 2008). "'Prada' nips at author Lauren Weisberger's heels". USA TODAY. http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2008-05-27-chasing-harry-winston_N.htm. Retrieved 2010-10-05. "Nelson says. "The definition of chick lit has expanded to include some things that are a little more accomplished and grown-up and literary than what that term used to mean."
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