WHETHER INTEGRATED WITH OTHER BOOKS OR SHELVED IN A SPECIAL SECTION, BLACK FICTION HOLDS ITS OWN
Since the 1970s, African-American novels have slammed, slid, infiltrated, and blended into the mainstream shelves of libraries. Once submerged in general fiction, these novels now have an authorship and readership to match the other genres. According to the 1995 Target Market News annual report, "between 1988 and 1993, African-American book purchases increased 100%." During the same period, African-American fiction attracted a new readership with the establishment of African-American book clubs and more college courses that taught the works of black writers.
Magazines like Publishers Weekly, Essence, Booklist, and Library Journal; organizations like the American Booksellers Association; and Oprah's Book Club recognize the African-American genre and have compiled reading lists and bestseller lists showing the popularity of these titles.
The debate continues among librarians whether or not to create a genre section in the public library for African-American fiction. Some librarians do not view African-American novels as a genre, commenting that it would be a shame to separate them from general fiction. These librarians predict that a collection for these novels would be ignored or would only be read by people of color.
Other librarians have discarded this thinking because many black authors are well-read by everyone and appear on major bestseller lists. Their viewpoint is that African-American novels are being written by both black and white writers and are in high cross-cultural demand.
What does the genre include?
Although not all African-American novels include …