Helen's Mid-lit section -
post chick lit but before grey lit
WHY MID LIT and Why now? MID LIT is a follow on from ‘chick lit’ but before ‘grey lit’. (I made that one up too.) Interestingly, the term has been rather swiftly co-opted by the publishing industry – so either I’m not as original as I thought or I should have written my comedy novel ‘Losing It’ quicker.
In the 80s, it was usual to be to criticised, judged and invited to explain what it was like to be a female and funny – but surely now – 30 years on – you’d think the spectre of funny, female content would be met with just a little more ease ? Or even encouragement? The very few comedy fiction prizes are few and far between – let alone female friendly – and the Baileys Prize still doesn’t have female comedy fiction as a stand-alone category.
And yet literature continues to expand and adapt to reflect social influences! Third world consumerism, fear of terrorism, the power of private enterprise and the digital revolution – are just some areas that have nudged new genres. ‘Transrealism’ is one such arrival – featuring real events combined with fantasy and horror. It rejects plot and archetypal characters, yet has grabbed the attention of all. We also have the rise and rise of erotic literature. A well-known publishing secret is that many of the more marketable examples are written by men under a female pseudonym and followed by fans of women!
And while there is a welcome presence of witty, bright, female commentary across the media, where is the natural reflection of one of the keenest and eager consumer groups in book form - The Mid Lit woman? Which is why I made the term up.
Mid lit is for women consumers who appreciate subliminal empowerment through laughter and wit. Yes, laughter. The trigger that moves the written word on the page, into a sense of universal recognition via a laugh. Not an easy literary transition to achieve - but a wonderful thing when it happens. I have laughed merrily while reading novels on a train and the pleasure is huge. Now it is the turn for women of a certain age to play their part. Both by reading, writing and buying the things. I, for one have waited long enough - I can’t wait to start raising confidence, consciousness and comedy in a narrative from.
Having been a judge on some of the current prizes, I may have more knowledge than some - as to what goes on. We all know the final book may not be the outright ‘best’ – but it will be the optimum choice, after some clever maths has incorporated the panel’s subjective offerings. This is the way it works. How can an erudite historical novel about Stalin be equally judged against a wonderful children’s book of poetry? It can’t - but the presence of each book - will at least enhance its profile. So all is not lost (trust me, I was there for that one) and anyway – why not take a leaf out of my book – it’s not the winning it’s the taking someone apart that counts? (Joke)
Not that I’m bitter – but we are no longer 80s children – we have a presence – we love laughter and we should be celebrating our hard won confidence a lot more.
I have formed ‘comedywomeninprint’ (COMEDYWOMENINPRINT.CO.UK) to do just that – but first I ask (with my fingers crossed) for you to read ‘Losing It’ and don’t tell me that your mum, aunt, cousin won’t enjoy it. They will. They will most likely enjoy David Nobbs, Philip Roth and Malcom Bradbury as well – but either way it’s time to get ready and make a space - mid lit is coming…