AustLit logo
The Fields of Popular Fiction single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 The Fields of Popular Fiction
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Popular fiction is an immense but nonetheless distinctive literary field and, rather like literary fiction—to which it is often contrasted—it has its representative authors, those who seem to encapsulate everything that gives that field definition. The American writer James Patterson is a good contemporary example. Patterson has published around 100 novels since 1976: high, regular output in a popular genre (detective fiction, for example) is one measurement of this particular field’s good health. It also helps if an author sells a lot of copies, assisted by some aggressive and effective publicity and distribution; something that has in fact been a feature of the popular fictional field for some considerable time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Patterson is also an experienced and successful advertising executive ‘who knows a thing or two about branding’ (Wood 2009). Literary fiction can sometimes sell very well indeed, of course, but popular fiction can lay immediate claim to large chunks of the fictional marketplace. ‘Of all the hardcover fiction sold in the U.S. in 2013,’ an article in Vanity Fair tells us, ‘books by Patterson accounted for one out of every 26.’ This article goes on to speak of a ‘global thriller industry’ and characterises Patterson as ‘the Henry Ford of books’ (Purdum 2015). The New York Times Magazine similarly notes that since 2006 ‘one out of every 17 novels bought in the United States was written by James Patterson’; it calls him ‘James Patterson Inc.’ as if, in the world of popular fiction, author and company can seem to be one and the same thing (Mahler 2010). Literary fiction, by contrast, is rarely if ever regarded as a matter of industrial or corporate production.' (Introduction)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon New Directions in Popular Fiction : Genre, Distribution, Reproduction Ken Gelder (editor), London : Palgrave Macmillan , 2016 11559068 2016 anthology criticism

    'This book brings together new contributions in Popular Fiction Studies, giving us a vivid sense of new directions in analysis and focus. It looks into the histories of popular genres such as the amatory novel, imperial romance, the western, Australian detective fiction, Whitechapel Gothic novels, the British spy thriller, Japanese mysteries, the 'new weird', fantasy, girl hero action novels and Quebecois science fiction. It also examines the production, reproduction and distribution of popular fiction as it carves out space for itself in transnational marketplaces and across different media entertainment systems; and it discusses the careers of popular authors and the various investments in popular fiction by readers and fans. This book will be indispensable for anyone with a serious interest in this prolific but highly distinctive literary field.' (Publication summary)

    London : Palgrave Macmillan , 2016
    pg. 1-19
Last amended 8 Aug 2017 13:38:32
1-19 The Fields of Popular Fictionsmall AustLit logo
X