Australian popular fiction is the most significant growth area in Australian trade publishing since the turn of the twenty-first century, yet it has received little sustained scholarly attention (Fletcher et al. 5). Over the last two decades, the rhetoric of the decline of literary fiction has become a recurring theme in cultural journalism (see, for example, Knox; Mordue; Neill; Sullivan; Williamson). But while the fate of literature prompts elegiac reflection, Australian popular fiction is a success story hidden in plain view. Nationally and internationally, critically and commercially, Australian popular fiction titles have performed strongly over the twenty-first century. For example, in 2010 Peter Temple’s Truth won Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin, following German, Swedish, US, and UK prizes for this and his earlier novels; in 2015 Australian fantasy writer Angela Slatter won a World Fantasy Award for her short story collection, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings; and in 2017 romance novelist Stephanie Laurens appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List for the 38th time with Lord of the Privateers. As we have shown elsewhere, the three major genres of crime, fantasy and romance are not just growing by output, but driving change in the post-digital publishing economy (Driscoll et al., ‘Publishing Ecosystems’). This special issue is part of our larger research agenda to address the gaps in knowledge about this thriving sector of literary culture, both in Australia and internationally.
Letter or Note in Journal
fiction, 21st century, popular fiction, genre worlds, Australia