I just read an interview with Serbian writer, Zoran Zivkovic posted on SF Signal. In particular, I love the distinction he makes between genre fiction and “the fantastika” the which is excerpted here:
SF SIGNAL: “I read in an interview that you consider yourself a writer “without any prefixes.” Why do you think some readers, critics, and other writers have biases against fiction that are typically labeled as genre or might include elements of the fantastika?”
ZIVKOVIC: “These are two very different things. The fantastika is a noble and ancient art. (A much broader term, by the way, than “fantasy.”) According to some studies in literary history, about 70 percent of everything that has ever been written in the last 5,000 years, ever since literacy came about, belongs to one of many forms of the fantastika. Some readers might not like it, that’s quite legitimate, but I don’t see how any serious critic could have biases against it. This would mean denying that the vast majority of the world literary heritage has any value. As for genre fiction, it refers to products of the contemporary publishing industry. Since any industry is primarily about making a profit, it’s no wonder that their products don’t have much art; art by its very nature does not go along with popularity. And only popularity, mass readership, paves the way to profit. Alas, the more popular usually means the more trivial, less artistic.”
There’s so much importance placed on the boxes where writing is published…and so much distain for the genre ghettos, that it’s refreshing to be reminded of the long traditions that existed before Barnes and Nobel needed simple shelving instructions.