What Makes a Novel Mainstream?

Comments: 1

To me, a mainstream novel is a book that can't easily be pidgeon-holed. It doesn't easily fit into any of the so-called genre categories, even though it may contain elements of one or more category. I think a book can be considered mainstream if it has a more embitious subject matter, and character development, and theme, as Dean Koontz maintains.

Let's consider some books. What category or genre they would fit in?

"Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck
"Gone with the wind," by Margaret Mitchell
"Moby Dick," by Herman Melvill
"Call of the Wild," by Jack London
"To Kill a Mocking Bird," by Harper Lee

Each of these contain elements of one genre or another, suspense, mystery, adventure, action, romance, whatever. However, I don't think you can comfortably categorize any of them. They transend genre.

That, to me, is what makes a novel mainstream, and what makes it great.

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Monday, June 19, 2006

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1 comment

  1. Hmmmm, I always interpreted mainstream as meaning those which are popular at present. Da Vinci Code is Mainstream because its being bought now but probably will be forgotten in a decade. (if that)

    Those you mentioned above, I would put in the classics section. Most bookstores enforce a 'had to be written over 100 years ago' but thats bs. TO Kill a Mockingbird is the bestest of the bunch (and I ve read them all) and the author is still alive.

    I can of course be terribly worng. It seems we have different names for the same things, yes?