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Healing Fiction: A New Genre Emerges

by | May 23, 2024 | News

We’ve had chic lit, cosy crime and romantasy – now make way for ‘healing fiction’, the latest genre to be identified by publishers.  In a fascinating article in the Bookseller, Justine Taylor, managing editor at the Zaffre Publishing Group, described healing fiction as books with an “emotional core” which are “quiet” in their themes and plot. Chris White, editorial director at Scribner, added that the narratives often have “a more overt ‘message’ than we generally find in contemporary Western literature”.

 

The authors or setting are often Japanese or Korean, such as the Geoffrey Trousselot-translated Before the Coffee Gets Cold (Picador) by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, which continues to sell  between 1500 and 2000 copies per week, despite first publishing in 2019. Other big-hitters in the healing fiction space include Hiro Arikawa’s The Goodbye Cat (translated by Philip Gabriel; Doubleday), Michiko Aoyama’s What You Are Looking for is in the Library (Alison Watts; Transworld) and Sosuke Natsukawa’s The Cat Who Saved Books (Louise Heal Kawai; Picador).

 

Katharine Morris, an editor at John Murray, said: “It’s been a stressful time and it seems like everyone is feeling like things are falling apart. The ripples from the pandemic are still affecting people and how much they have been able to travel in the last four or five years, the opportunities they’ve had, the cost of living crisis, the climate disaster, crises around the world and the horrendous situation in Palestine, there’s just a lot of difficult things to contend with.

“For those reading fiction, they want something reassuring and accessible and not exhausting. The concept of burn-out has become so dominant in the last year or two [and] many people are looking for an antidote.”  

 

Chris White, editorial director at Scribner added: “The success of books in this area may be connected to the cost of living crisis, but it’s also connected to a technological revolution that has led to a huge increase in people’s access to films, books and music from other cultures and a vast expansion in relatively cheap travel that gives them the ability to experience faraway places for themselves.”

 

The Bookseller notes that in the case of Japanese and Korean translated fiction, ‘the books are often set in spaces associated with calm, cosiness and reflection, including book shops, cafes and libraries. In addition to this, healing fiction titles often feature a cat…’

 

 

 

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