Canadian fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay offers his two cents regarding genre novels not being recognized for prestigious literary award in this article from the Globe and Mail.
Here's an extract:
And right now, perhaps even more heatedly, there's yet another spat in spate. This one is a battle over Britain's own top literary award, the Man Booker Prize. The fine science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson just wrote a piece blasting how that prize utterly ignores SF, always has, and seems lately to be only about historical fiction ... and, well, what's with that?
A historical fiction novel did, indeed, receive the award last week, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. But I have an academic, deeply knowledgeable about the, well, the history of historical fiction, who points out that until very recently it had no stature or esteem at all, that as a genre it was as ignored as SF and fantasy, dismissed as even more lowbrow.
In purely commercial terms, of course, Tudor-era novels these days about fetching heroines shown half-decapitated on the covers in elegant gowns have made the genre hot. (And how perfect is it to show beheaded women in a Tudor setting?)
One of this year's Booker judges, John Mullan, replied to Robinson's comments with an almost definitively asinine comment. It was Hall of Fame-quality idiocy. After first noting that he was “not aware of science fiction” (which might normally preclude going on to comment), he proceeded to declare, through the foot in his mouth, that it was “bought by a special kind of person who has special weird things they go to and meet each other.” I do admit to wondering what size shoe Professor Mullan wears, and how it fits between his teeth, and whether he teaches grammar.
Speaking of Kay, I simply can't wait to read Under Heaven this spring!