Updated list of…

Updated list of genre-writing authors with literary respectability assessment:


  • Margaret Atwood, 10
  • Italo Calvino, 10
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 10
  • Jose Saramago, 10
  • Isabel Allende, 9
  • A.S. Byatt, 9
  • Doris Lessing, 9
  • Salman Rushdie, 9
  • Gloria Naylor, 8
  • Joyce Carol Oates, 8
  • Marge Piercy, 8
  • Thomas Pynchon, 8
  • Kurt Vonnegut, 8
  • Nancy Willard, 8
  • Aimee Bender, 7
  • Anthony Burgess, 7
  • Michael Chabon, 7
  • Samuel Delany, 7
  • Ursula K. LeGuin, 7
  • Michael Moorcock, 7
  • George Saunders, 7
  • Eleanor Wilner, 7
  • Sherman Alexie, 6
  • Kate Atkinson, 6
  • Umberto Eco, 6
  • Laura Esquivel, 6
  • Francesca Lia Block, 4
  • John Crowley, 4
  • Audrey Niffenegger, 4
  • Jonathan Carroll, 3
  • Fred Chappell, 3
  • Graham Joyce, 3
  • J.G. Ballard, 1
  • China Mieville, 1
  • Geoff Ryman, 1

  • Villiers de l'Isle Adam
  • Kathy Acker
  • Angela Carter
  • H. Rider Haggard
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Guy de Maupassant
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Jules Verne

10 thoughts on “Updated list of…”

  1. Mary Anne, I am fascinated by this list. I hope you and Nalo both appear on a later incarnation of it, before too many years go by.

  2. Wouldn’t that be splendid! Nalo’s going to beat me there, I think, though. 🙂 I’m not sure she shouldn’t already be on that list, with her recent _The Salt Roads_.

  3. A few more names:

    Ray Bradbury – poetry and literary qualities, perhaps a 7?

    Anne Rice – going on the basis of generally being shelved in the “fiction” section of bookstores not the genre section, perhaps a 5?

    Antoine de Saint-Exupry – Le Petite Prince (The Little Prince) – sure it is a “children’s” book, but definitely literary as well – 8

    Madeline L’Engle – 6? Like C.S.Lewis taught in school.

    Deceased – Kafka? – 9 or 10 I’d guess.

    C. S. Lewis – 7, on the basis of being taught in school, though perhaps not taken all that seriously in literary circles?

  4. No idea at all on the impressiveness numbers, but:

    Jeanette Winterson (Oranges…, at least, owes a great deal to the fantasy fable-repurposers, and I think GUT Symmetries might be vaguely SFish — maybe not)
    Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon, Beloved)
    Paul Auster (maybe more surrealist than spec.fic., but still)
    Richard Powers (lots of stuff, and I remember seeing him profiled in some prominent lit magazine)

  5. Burgess and Calvino are reported dead. So sad.

    Sean, I assume you mean Octavia, and that’s a great catch, of course.

  6. I don’t mean to be simultaneously contrarian and off-topic (although apparently I’m going to do it anyway), but something really bothers me about this. Maybe it’s the vague sense of justification, that speculative literature needs to go begging to the lit-fic mainstream in order to justify its own quality? I think that’s why the ratings system bothers me. It’s not just about building bridges, which is something you could do at lower levels of literary prestige. It starts to feel like it’s about receiving a blessing from someone with real credibility, as though we aren’t able to generate our own credibility. Which I think we are.

  7. Well, I can certainly see that view. But at the same time, it doesn’t seem realistic to me to ignore the fact that lit fic editors are generally very skittish and ignorant about spec fic; even talking to a good friend of mine who currently edits a lit fic journal and who actually likes sf, he wasn’t sure whether he could talk his boss into letting him submit material to the Fountain Award, because it might not reflect well on his literary publication.

    That’s such a prevalent mindset — I don’t see how it can do anything but help if we can get some of these people with serious literary chops to say out loud that yes, they like speculative fiction — they even write it sometimes.

    We’re trying to effect a massive paradigm shift (in both directions, since we’re also trying to convince spec fic people that they might find some of what they love about spec fic in these literary folks), and I actually do think it’s going to be quite difficult. So I feel like I want all the help I can get on this one. Does that make sense?

  8. Sure, it makes sense. What’s the desired goal, though? Are you just trying to find broader audiences for various kinds of writing? That would be a worthy goal in of itself, I guess, but I feel like there’s something else (mostly unarticulated) going on.

  9. Well, the trick is that there are multiple goals. 🙂 My primary goal is to provide the sort of arts foundation services for the genre that other arts foundations provide for mainstream lit. It’s true that genre writers can apply directly to those, but there are a host of reasons why that hasn’t historically happened much (at least in the US — Nalo’s a good example of how Canadian sf authors work differently).

    Another goal is to educate the public about genre stuff; that includes doing outreach stuff, putting together syllabi and booklists to help provide avenues of understanding.

    Overall, the goal is to help the genre, and make the genre better and more publically accessible (and of course, more respected is part of that, but actually not my prime motivation). But that goal plays out in a lot of different ways!

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