Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Last month the New Republic ran an article chiding humorist David Sedaris for calling his work non-fiction when, as it turns out, a number of his "exaggerations" are in fact lies. While I found the article a little persnickity since Sedaris isn't a journalist, scholar or historian, it did bring up some valid questions: Why are so many "fiction" books being marketed as "non-fiction"? And what does it really matter when it comes to recreational reads like humor?

SFChronicle Book Editor Oscar Villalon chimes in on the debate, saying that for publishers the appeal of non-fiction is that it's easier to market and that it outsells fiction. While for writers, non-fiction is easier to write because you don't have to persuade the reader to suspend disbelief.

The Chronicle goes on to make the case that this premium on non-fiction ultimately devalues fiction, making it seem "second rate." What do you think? How rigorous should the standards for non-fiction be? Does it depend on the subject? What do you get out of reading fiction versus non-fiction? Link to SFGate article.

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