That’s a whole lot of initials, and they stand for one of the more noticeable trends in the book world today — one that is helping to inform a pivotal cultural conversation in this country.
Children’s and young adult authors have been taking the lead when it comes to addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in their works.
Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I.W. Gregorio’s None of the Above and Adam Silvera’s upcoming More Happy Than Not are just a few examples of this, and publishers like Interlude Press are launching whole imprints dedicated to representing LGBT characters (Duet) and providing LGBT youth stories they can relate to.
This year, popular authors typically associated with writing adult fiction and nonfiction are joining the young adult set, starting with Jodi Picoult, whose Off the Page she penned with an assist from her daughter, Samantha van Leer. The trend continues with Shopaholic series author Sophie Kinsella (Finding Audrey), techno-thriller writer Mark Alpert (The Six) and famed chef Marcus Samuelsson with Make It Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life — a YA version of his bestselling adult memoir, Yes, Chef. Let’s hope Stephen King doesn’t get any ideas.
It began with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in 2012 and authors have been picking up the “bad girl” baton ever since. Bad or even just unlikable female protagonists have proved to be very likable indeed, whether it’s Rachel from The Girl on the Train or Anna from Hausfrau, readers can’t seem to get enough of their misdeeds and machinations. And let’s not forget about the badass, especially with the highly anticipated release of The Girl in the Spider’s Web — the next installment in the Millennium series started by the late Stieg Larsson, featuring avenging computer hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander.
Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate: these are just a few of the famous works that come to mind when you hear the term "magical realism" (or maybe the term inspires an eye roll — magical realism has been much debated and maligned in literary circles).
Referring to a fiction genre where magic or the supernatural is introduced into an otherwise non-fantastical narrative, it’s a challenging element to blend into a story and not have it come off, well, hokey. This might explain why many authors hesitate to go there, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in 2015. There is Kelly Link’s wonderfully weird short story collection Get in Trouble, Kirsty Logan’s debut novel The Gracekeepers and the latest release from Magical Realism maven Toni Morrison, God Help the Child.
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