Kalos Press
a literary imprint of Doulos Resources

"Genre" and "Literary" Fiction: A debate on where these overlap—and where they don't

We present Kalos Press as a "literary imprint" of our mother organization, Doulos Resources—and when it comes to fiction, we specifically state that we aim to be a publisher of "literary" fiction (we aim to be, because as of this writing we have not yet published a work of fiction). Further, on our Frequently Asked Questions page, we say, in reference to our willingness to publish "genre" fiction:
We are open to considering all fiction, but we are not currently interested in specializing in particular genres or categories of fiction.

Recently, a couple of our staff members (Jessica and myself—Ed) have been discussing the place of genre fiction in the publishing world generally, and in the larger sphere of "literary" publishing more specifically. This conversation arose after reading and sharing two articles/posts from elsewhere: this blog post from writer/professor Daniel Silliman, on the struggles of "Christian fiction;" and this article from Popular Mechanics on "How Science Fiction Became More Important Than Literary Fiction."

From the latter, this quote especially stood out as worthy of discussion:
There are stupid books and there are smart books. There are well-written books and badly written books. There are fun books and boring books. All of these distinctions are vastly more important than the distinction between the literary and the non-literary. Time has a tendency to demolish old snobberies.

Is this entirely so? Has the label "literary fiction" seen its day, and overstayed its usefulness? Are the lines between "genre" and "literary" works blurred beyond the point of being useful boundaries?

Jessica and I thought there might be some value in extending the discussion further—so we agreed to a debate, of sorts, on genre fiction and literary fiction and, more specifically, whether genre fiction is (or isn't) inherently "literary" in its nature.

Over the coming weeks, we'll take turns posting about this in a debate format. This means that, first, we'll each lay out our declarations and arguments for or against a particular position; following that, we will interact with and respond to the other's points; then, in conclusion, we will each offer a final summation of our points (especially asserting those that we believe the other hasn't adequately responded to).

In fairness and full disclosure: Jessica, in addition to her excellent work as our General Editor for Kalos Press, is also a writer; in fact, she writes genre fiction! Beyond this, she is an avid reader, including many genre fiction titles. Meanwhile, I (Ed) am also a writer (almost exclusively nonfiction), and my reading rarely dips into the genre fiction category—so I am arguably somewhat uninformed, at least in terms of personal experience, on the topic; or you could say that I stand to gain the most from a healthy discussion.

At any rate, we are both looking forward to it, and hope that you will, as well.

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