Literature Is a Luxury Brand


They have a swish sounding publisher. They write for the New Yorker or the Guardian. They’re overwhelmingly likely to have attended an elite university such as Oxford or Stamford. They have an MFA. It’s all indicative of one clear message: these people are smarter than you, so you should buy their book.

Genre fiction is popular and appeals to mass markets; literature is a highbrow pursuit with a limited audience. The smaller commercial appeal of literary novels is precisely why authors should stop focusing solely on literature, argues Damien Walter over at the Guardian. So why are literary writers so afraid of the genre label even when their books include classic genre features?

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →