Wednesday, 7 October 2009

From Historical to Horror

The Man Booker prize, awarded last night, went to Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall. I shall wait for the paperback, or the library copy, as I haven't had much success with reading Ms Mantel in the past.
The most interesting thing about the final six for me was the fact that they were all historical novels. Hopefully, this may mean the genre will open up again after being on the back foot for a few years.

Paranormals rushed into the market place and must have helped push historicals to the back of the queue. It was interesting to see how many historical writers added a paranormal twist in the hope that the new "young" market would read them. I'm not so sure the market was or indeed is "young" in the sense of teenagers or people in the early twenty something bracket. The paranormal novel has been around for years in different guises - sometimes called gothic, sometimes horror, sometimes horrid. When I worked in public libraries, I was amazed to find that the most popular section of the non-fiction was true crime - how murders were committed, with gruesome details. Now I suspect forensic crime has taken over - any modern librarians out there to testify?
People, perhaps only those comfortably situated, seem to have always had a need to be scared. It might make for a good dissertation to discover if the need for horror in reading matter diminishes in times of war and other disasters. As real life becomes more comfortable for so many in this modern age, it is perhaps not so surprising that horror and paranormals have flooded onto the market.
I long for good, solidly researched historical novels with a story to tell, and sadly the library shelves are full of titles I've already read. The Plaidys, Barnes and Heyes currently being re-issued are fine if you haven't read them, but I wish the twenty-something publishers would remember that lots of people were around the first time the books came out - and those folk are still here and looking for a good read!

3 comments:

Dara said...

Well I'm glad historicals are coming back! That's normally my first choice when I read. I hardly read anything contemporary; there generally has to be some sort of historical part to it :)

Jen Black said...

I hope it's true - I'm running out of things to read!
Jen

Linda Banche said...

I agree, on all points. I always hated horror, maybe because real life is way too scary to have to find it in books.

And I love the detailed historical novel. Sadly, so many books nowadays are so general they could fit into any era, and lack the wealth of period details that painted pictures with words. Unfortunately, they've replaced the historical research with lots of graphic sex.