The Millions

The Burden and Necessity of Genre

When you write a book, there are certain questions you can expect: How long did it take you? Will you write a sequel? And—the inevitable—what is it?

What it is: thousands of hours tapping away on a keyboard between swiping student IDs at the Sarah Lawrence gym, months of crippling doubt, dozens of rewrites, maddening rounds of edits, the culmination of years of dreaming and plotting condensed into a 300-page manuscript with which I’ve imbued the emotional vulnerability of a pubescent diary.

No, they will persist. What is it?

I rehearsed this answer in my query letter, tweaked depending on the interest and need of the agent addressed: Complete at 80,000 words, this

Sometimes it was a literary novel. Sometimes a literary commercial novel. Sometimes a literary novel with commercial appeal.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Millions

The Millions2 min read
Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke Win Nobel Prizes in Literature
Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The post Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke Win Nobel Prizes in Literature appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions19 min read
Unsettling the American Dream: The Millions Interviews Viet Thanh Nguyen
I couldn't pay attention to that, not to write the novel I wanted to write. We can't let our work be driven by the anxieties around narrative scarcity. The post Unsettling the American Dream: The Millions Interviews Viet Thanh Nguyen appeared first o
The Millions6 min read
Tuesday New Release Day: Smith, Jones, Jemc, Dancyger, Marantz
Zadie Smith headlines a new week of new books, including essays by angry women and an excellent exploration of the rise of the online alt-right. The post Tuesday New Release Day: Smith, Jones, Jemc, Dancyger, Marantz appeared first on The Millions.