Genre Fiction Authors Do you think genre writers should be considered good enough to be in the literary canon? I think some of these authors are just as creative. They can go from writing suspense to romance to children's book to poetry. What are your thoughts? Do you think that some genre writers are talented enough to be in the canon? is the canon outdated?

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I feel that postmodernism has pierced a hole in the so-called literary canon. The criteria for works prior to that movement will probably not change, but the new forms of the novel, for example, pose a serious question to literary critique.

I would go as far as to say that many contemporary works that we call "novels" go by that name because we have not found a new name to call them. Chilean Roberto Bolaño is a case in point. His works have become an object of cult. However, most of them have rambling plots, unsolved situations, characters that appear from nowhere and disappear without rhyme or reason, and seem to hinge on variations of the same theme. Most of them rely heavily on his Barcelona experience. And yet, having scoffed the criteria of the canon, he has become an intellectual must.

Sooner or later, the canon will have to be revised and adjusted to the new works. This would be a great step toward the advancement of literature. In the same way as prescritive grammar gave way to updated manners of analysis, literature needs a breath of fresh air in respect to what may be called canonic.

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The literary canon, as it is generally defined, is limited to writers of literature. Literature is not always easily distinguished from genre fiction, so I think that there is a definite possibility for a writer of high quality, literarily-oriented genre fiction to find his or her way into the canon.

Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle come to mind as examples of writers who blurred the lines a bit.  

The work has to be re-readable and must provide something more that "mere" entertainment if it is going to help a writer enter the canon as currently defined.

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I think the quality of the writing is what’s important, not the genre.  For example, there are science fiction and mystery books that are considered high quality.  The literary canon is subjective, of course.  Consider Charles Dickens’s books.  A couple of them can clearly be called mysteries.  Should we disparage all mysteries?  While Great Expectations is more than a mystery, it is considered one of his best works.  The Mystery of Edwin Drood is one of the founders of the genre, and it is considered a potential masterpiece if it was finished.  I say we judge the book on its merits, not its genre.

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