Wednesday, October 20, 2010

[ZESTCaste] 10 Emerging Book Genres You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

10 Emerging Book Genres You've Probably Never Heard Of

Literature, as with other creative pursuits, exists as one of the most
diverse outlets for human expression available. Movements ebb and flow
over time, allowing themselves to both influence and be influenced by
the prevailing philosophical and cultural constructs swirling around
them. Some obtain prominent – if not permanent – mainstream status and
find their way onto syllabi across the world. Others tarry about on
the fringes of general awareness, pleasuring and provoking only a
small subsection of the populace. That somehow seems a bit unfair, as
all movements do have something to contribute to the literary canon.
The following emergent genres or subgenres have garnered a fair amount
of attention over the past few years. Some have been around for a
while. Some have recently sprouted from preexisting movements, lately
postmodernism. And others are relatively new. All any of them share is
that they deserve more attention than they currently receive, yet
appear to be currently gaining some degree of momentum. Readers of a
more literary bent may recognize some of these genres and subgenres,
but the mainstream still has yet to really embrace them or realize
their existence.

1.) Hindi Dalit

Considered "untouchable" in India's formal and informal caste systems
alike, the Dalit suffered from intense marginalization for centuries.
However, publishing houses recently came to realize that even the
"outcasts" have extremely valuable, eclectic stories in need of
telling. Major Hindi literary magazines such as Katha Desh and Hans
began publishing a wider variety of Dalit works in late 2009 and early
2010. Obviously, this particular genre has been around for a while –
it just took a while to receive anything beyond peripheral recognition
by mainstream printers and critics. Hans dedicated a 2004 issue
entirely to Dalit poetry, short stories, literary criticism and more,
paving the way for the broader recognition it is beginning to enjoy
today. Featuring Omprakash Valmiki, Chandrabhan Prasad, Rajat Rani
Meenu, Mohandas Naimishray, Mata Prasad, Jaiprakash Kardam and
guest-editing by Ajay Navaria and Sheoraj Singh Bechain, it opened up
the community to new ideas and concepts. In January of 2010 Navaria
became the first Hindi Dalit writer invited to take part in the
prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival. Some members of the Dalit
caste torched copies of "Munshi" Premchand's acclaimed Rangbhumi in
protest of the high-class hegemony and negative depictions of the
"outcast" peoples in the same year. Most members of the Dalit literary
community condemned this action, however.

All literary movements have their own fractures between writers, and
Hindi Dalit is not an exception proving the rule. Every creator speaks
in his or her own unique voice, interpreting and relating their own
experiences and visions. But at the core of almost every work of Hindi
Dalit lay a pining for spiritual, social and political freedom after
generations of finding themselves pushed to the fringes of society.

2.) Cashier Memoirs

The concept of memoirs by cashiers and other overlooked service
workers has yet to gain any real momentum in the United States, but in
Europe they seem to exist as their own self-contained subgenre. Anna
Sam's Tribulations of a Cashier kicked off the trend in 2008,
recounting her triumphs and tragedies working in a French grocery
store and eventually landing herself on the bestseller list. Her
success piggybacked on Carmela Narcisi's 99 Faces in One Day, which
chronicled the interesting and frustrating individuals she encountered
during her tenure as a cashier. At least one American author, Carrie
Evans, attempted to emulate her European counterparts with her
humorous Letters From Your Friendly Cashier, but it failed to catch on
in her home country. Yet, anyways. Some believe the failure of such
literature in the United States reflects consumer preference for
memoirs by celebrities and those who work with them (and other
wealthy, powerful individuals) rather than the more humble everyman
and –woman.

Although nearly every memoir of this type approaches the subject of
life behind the register as simultaneously humorous and thankless,
their value transcends the amount of chuckles to be had. Those who
have read any of the memoirs find them fascinating sociological
studies in retail behavior – displayed by customers and employees
alike. From the perspective of those whose services oftentimes go
unacknowledged, even abused, one can gain some interesting insight
into how people regard low-income workers and the tics they don't mind
displaying in front of perfect strangers. If nothing else, it also
provides some valuable lessons in the importance of common courtesy.

3.) Bitpunk

An amalgamation of "8-bit" and "punk," bitpunk has become the logical
successor to the cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk movements. Gaining
ground after blossoming from the chip tune/chipcore musical subgenre
(a sterling example of which can be found here), the movement has
swelled to encompass film and literature as well. Inspired by the
unique sounds, textures and visuals of classic 8- and 16-bit
videogames, this emerging genre is characterized by its nostalgia for
the technologies of the 70s, 80s and 90s. The screenplay for J.B.
Ghuman, Jr.'s 2010 film Spork epitomizes the bitpunk aesthetic,
drawing from of the tackier, more embarrassing (or, alternately,
iconic) elements of the aforementioned eras. Its categorization as
"punkish" comes from its sociopolitical bent. Spork dissects gender
and sexual constructs from the perspective of an intersexed individual
who identifies as female. Not every bitpunk piece in the future will
necessarily deal with the plight of the sexually marginalized, of
course, but it stands to reason that many protagonists will likely
come from similarly overlooked backgrounds – a populist sensibility
very much in line with the original punk movement. Suffice to say, all
the cogs are now in place to get a very new literary genre off the
ground like so many twin-tailed foxes.

4.) Twitter Novels

Microblog juggernaut Twitter provides a 140-character limit that many
writers find challenging and absolutely tantalizing. One of the more
visible and popular literary genres on this list, it probably
nevertheless comes as a shock to some readers that the ubiquitous
website genuinely has more to offer than news regarding whether or not
the haiku structure seems to be a popular choice for obvious reasons –
and full novels have made their way onto the Twitter scene, though
none have really made it huge just yet. Brandon J. Mendelson's The
Falcon Can Hear the Falconer (first chapter archived here) gained a
small amount of buzz, and searches for Twitter novels yield results of
varying popularity. In Japan, whose prevailing culture seems to
embrace technology with far more relish, the format has exploded with
the same enthusiasm as the cell phone novel movement – the logical
precursor that also saw experimentation in the United States as well.
It remains to be seen whether or not a particularly enterprising and
creative American writer can emulate the successes of his or her
Japanese contemporaries with a breakthrough Twitter novel or poetry
anthology of their own. For now, however, the genre continues to
flounder about with an uncertain future ahead of it.

5.) Picture Books for the Elderly

Founded in 2007, Ageless Sages later earned the 2009 Leading Moms in
Business Award for Natalie Tucker Miller. As the world's first
publishing company that predominantly prints picture books for senior
citizens, she hopes that the books they produce will bring comfort and
delight to elderly individuals in need of positive literature. Reading
and soaking in artwork both keep a mind stimulated – and considering
how age chips away at cognition, blending the 2 together certainly
have their merits for the older demographics. Beth Miller penned the
first of the genre, titled Lavender Ladies, in 2008. This picture book
diverges from its "adult" counterparts found in Borders' Humor section
due to its lack of irony and entirely different motivation. One of
Ageless Sages' core goals revolves around de-stigmatizing the aging
process and taking away society's shaming of nursing homes, assisted
living facilities and other eldercare institutions. It also hopes that
taking in such literature together will help bridge gaps between
family members who may not always understand what their senior
relatives experience mentally, physically and emotionally on a daily
basis. Few other publishing houses or writers appear to follow in the
company's lead for the time being, perhaps wondering whether or not a
market exists for such literary works. Perhaps Ageless Sages should
print a few more pieces before seeing how well their fledgling concept
meets the needs and wants of their target audiences.

6.) Progression Literature

The true origins of this article stand as somewhat difficult to
pinpoint given the number of spam blogs copying and pasting it for
search engine hits, but the one listed here seems to be the oldest of
the lot. More than likely the original. Here, Judyth Vary Baker pulls
from sources as varied as Scientific American and the human experience
to illustrate the concepts behind progression literature. The genre
attempts to create a perpetual dénouement that mimics how people
perceive time and events in their lives. Reality does not tie up all
its loose ends, even continuing past the death of the protagonists
experiencing their own unique narratives. From this, writers of
progression works seek to build a more relatable piece of literature
for audiences pining to know more. Each story concludes with
open-endedness, leaving readers to speculate and form their own ideas
and opinions regarding the characters' futures. At its center lay the
all-too-human pursuit of "truth," understanding and clarity – every
writer, every narrator pursues answers that may or may not even come.
It has postmodernism and poststructuralism (if not an earlier
movement) to thank for its philosophical roots, though its heavy
emphasis on the past, the pursuit of an often subjective truth and
attempts to always stay suspended in a state of dénouement lead Baker
to consider progression a genre or subgenre in and of itself. How
successful this experiment ends up is anyone's guess, though it does
hold considerable promise.

7.) Lucid Fiction

Spirituality and the mysterious nature of dreams are nothing new to
the literary world – they have pretty much existed as a mainstay since
the advent of writing itself. Tantra Bensko defines lucid fiction as a
surrealistic reality that pulls from heightened senses of
consciousness in waking and sleeping life. The genre perceives mass
media as a manipulative fiction obscuring the truth, with its own
ideas and an earnest desire to "wake" readers up to its own
interpretation of what is and is not reality. Many New Age and
experimental concepts unsurprisingly form the backbone of lucid
fiction, and Bensko encourages adherents to embrace their personal
beliefs and sell them as something true within the context of the work
itself. It extends beyond the realm of the speculative and into
something with feet in two different worlds.

Lucid fiction as a genre is much easier to understand when one
realizes it's pretty much just postmodernism by people who believe in

8.) Kinetic Poetry

A new media phenomenon with its feet planted firmly in the digital
age, kinetic poetry serves as a creative outlet for writerly and
technological types alike. Interpretations of what it entails, of
course, vary from artist to artist – but they all share a common
grounding in synthesizing moving multimedia art with poetic traditions
into a wholly stimulating experience. Some use Java as a canvas (such
as Ken Perlin's Magnetic Poetry-inspired example linked above), others
prefer Flash or other animation programs. Kinetic poetry does not come
saddled with any particular manifesto or philosophy. Rather, it only
falls victim to limitations of the chosen medium's coding. The DGAA
Kinetic Poetry Project showcases just how diverse the movement is,
with myriad artistic and literary styles at play. No matter one's
social or political standings and opinions, the slowly burgeoning
genre exists as accessible to anyone who wants to see their ideas
literally in motion. While it remains popular amongst artists,
experimental writers and computer enthusiasts, kinetic poetry still
flits around just outside of mainstream consciousness.

9.) Combinatorial

When the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series goes multimedia, the
combinatorial genre happens. A wonderful amalgamation of art,
technology and literature, this genre of interactive fiction overlaps
with mathematics and game theory in how it peers into the way
different elements of the story have to forge relationships with the
others. Regardless of the writer's philosophies and stylistic
preferences, he or she can create interesting literature using the
combinatorial method. Perhaps unsurprisingly, only the most devoted of
individuals undergo this daunting and heavily detailed task. Dennis G.
Jerz compares it to old text-based adventure games, where the
developers had to consider every possible move a player could make and
create situations accordingly. A similar subgenre of electronic
literature known as hypertext involves similar components, though more
akin to links on a blog post instead of an oldschool text adventure.
It is not exactly the newest genre out there, but it continues to grow
as video games and other technologies become more and more

10.) Hmong-American

The Hmong peoples, an Asian ethnic minority, only formulated their own
written language in the 1950s. Unsurprisingly, then, it took a while
for a strong literary tradition to gel. Thanks to efforts by the Hmong
American Writer's Circle, writers such as Mai Der Vang have organized
events and classes in order to promote the community to members and
non-members alike. As diverse as the literary canon of other cultures,
the rich oral traditions passed from generation to generation can now
reach a much broader audience and promote understanding between
societies. Vang ruminates on how the comparatively recent
establishment of a written Hmong language motivates the literati to
work tirelessly in order to forge their own unique identity and rise
to prominence as a valuable genre worthy of mainstream attention and
formal study.

Time will tell whether or not any of these literary genres emerge to
mainstream prominence, but the question of permanence does not squelch
the fact that they are still growing and evolving this very minute. No
matter their origins or life span, however, the one thing all these
movements share is a desire to express specific ideas and aesthetics
to a readership. They have stories that need telling, and audiences
who need to read them.


Get all ZESTCaste mails sent out in a span of 24 hours in a single mail. Subscribe to the daily digest version by sending a blank mail to, OR, if you have a Yahoo! Id, change your settings at

On this list you can share caste news, discuss caste issues and network with like-minded anti-caste people from across India and the world. Just write to

If you got this mail as a forward, subscribe to ZESTCaste by sending a blank mail to OR, if you have a Yahoo! ID, by visiting

Also have a look at our sister list, ZESTMedia:! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> Your email settings:
Individual Email | Traditional

<*> To change settings online go to:
(Yahoo! ID required)

<*> To change settings via email:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive