Upscale Fiction

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Sep 01 2010

I was wondering if you could address on your (very helpful) blog the difference between literary and upscale fiction. “Upscale” is a term I can’t quite get a grasp on, and I’m hoping you’ll be able to enlighten me!

Frankly, I have no idea. It sounds to me like a term that was created by someone who thinks of genre fiction as “lowbrow,” but that’s just me guessing. I would have to say that I suspect there’s no difference between literary and upscale fiction. If, however, someone else knows differently, I’d love to hear it.


13 responses to “Upscale Fiction”

  1. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the person was thinking of upmarket fiction, which is a hybrid of literary and commercial.

  2. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I think the first anon is right. Nathan Bransford calls it Book Club fiction. Something with strong enough themes that would warrant book club discusssion, but still has the readability of more commercial fair.

    I think Kristin Nelson calls it literary with a commercial bent. Not stuffy, but a little "smarter" than genre fiction.

    The book THE HELP would fit this description.

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Excuse me, last Anon, but genre fiction is plenty smart. Why don't you call it more commercial or serial fiction? Or call literary fiction more universal? Plenty of literary mysteries out there…

  4. Avatar Malia Sutton says:

    This topic always seems to get everyone into such a snit.

    I think upscale fiction is when you go into a bookshop next to Gucci and spend fifty dollars more for the same thing you could have found in the East Village.

  5. Avatar wry wryter says:

    Sold from a shelf in a bookstore and from a rack at the grocery store. Lots of angst, decent read.Female characters have dirt under their nails, sometimes from gardening, sometimes from digging up corpses.

    Sold off a table at the front of the bookstore, we carry it around, get to page 100 and probably not finish, but still carry it around because it makes us feel smart. All the women in the book wear pretty underwear.

  6. Avatar Jane Steen says:

    "Upscale" sounds like a word coined by people trying to sell a book to give it an edge over the competition. It doesn't really seem to mean anything.

    I used to work in real estate, and there we'd talk about "upscale homes" and "upscale communities". All that meant was that people kept their properties decent and the schools were good.

  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Anon at 10:33 — oh for pete's sake — you can't make a comment anywhere without someone thinking you're dissing them.

    My point, and I think you understood my point anyway, was that instead of making you laugh and nod, like chic lit does or making your heart pound like a thriller or mystery, one of upscale fiction goals (or outcome)is that it makes you ponder the larger point the book is trying to make, yes… THINK. Think and ponder and discuss the smart ways in which the author connects this with that and how that relates to present life. Unlike a genre book it's more concerned with what you THINK about getting from A to B, rather than GETTING from A to B.

    And I wouldn't be so quick to assume I'm dissing your reading material, since I read a ton of genre fiction and love it. But for the purpose of this discussion genre fiction is not upmarket/upscale/book club fiction, nor is it striving to be.

  8. Hate the way the genres are being parsed into smaller and smaller niche divisions. Ug.

  9. Seconding the suggestions that it's referring to literary fiction with commercial appeal, "Book Club" fiction. Although there is plenty of genre fiction that does make you think about getting from A to B, genre fiction in general is (unfortunately and sometimes undeservedly) regarded as baser than literary fiction–hence the "upscale" label for this type of literary fiction. It's a slightly elitist label to distinguish these books from the genres viewed as less intelligent.

    @Jane Steen: It's the same thing with apartment communities, which I noticed during a recent move. They're ALL "luxury apartments" if there's basic maintenance going on.

  10. @ wry writer & Malia Sutton: Thanks for the laugh!

  11. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Hate to admit this, but I tend to avoid literary or "upscale" fiction like the plague cuz it's usually depressing…Give me a fun mystery or interesting chick lit (not shopping & guys) over despair, death and disease. Enough doom & gloom and bad news on TV and in real life!

  12. I have to go with you, Anon, about enough doom and gloom.

    I work with guys who would sooner strangle me and eat my body parts than spit on me if I was on fire. I've already heard all of those doom and gloom stories, but from the perpetrators. Do I need more? Gonna go with no, not really.

  13. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Saranna, you poor thing! I'm almost afraid to ask what line of work you're in…Hope your book is a bestseller and you don't have to work with guys like that anymore…or maybe it gives you more to write about? Best of luck to you–Anon