Speaking on the sidelines of the 37th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2018) Friday evening, was Katie Ford, renowned British romance novelist. Answering queries on what is a genre, she says, “Genre is not a rigid mould which works must fit into, but a group of texts that share certain similarities – whether of form, performance context, or subject matter”.
Elucidating on how genres can be useful tools to readers, she further said, “To distinguish your genre would be by the way of its cover of course, but, if you check the publication then it will tell you who the publisher is. This also helps to decide what sort of book it is. So, in the book shop when you want to check a book’s genre, looking at the publisher is one of the other clues apart from the book cover.
“Genres are a guide to the reader, to publishers and the marketing people. If I know what sort of a book I am selling, then it’s a lot easier for me to sell and market it. If it’s a women’s contemporary fiction novel that I am writing, then I know that I need to target it to women and align myself to female brands, clothing and homeware that women tend to buy more than men.”
Staying with this quintessential question was a Consulting Publisher from Bloomsbury Publishing, UK, Faiza Khan, who also reiterated Katie’s words. She said, “Genre is ever evolving. Earlier theatre was the highbrow thing and novel lowbrow. Now novel is a highbrow thing and genre writers are considered lowbrow.
“So, these things are dynamic as well and they keep changing. A novel can become a popular novel within its life and in the same way if something was a popular novel 200 years ago especially the Dickensian serialised ones, that people were reading can become a classic later.”
Explaining this thought further was Abdul Wahhab Al Rifa’i who is a GCC novelist specialising in Science Fiction. He said, “Classification of knowledge is difficult. It is not mathematics. But I think the genre of Sci-Fi can itself be divided into 23 types.”