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Colson Whitehead on Literary Classification

sag-harbor-0309-lg-70936749.jpgShould authors worry about genre labels? At a recent reading, one blogger asked if Colson Whitehead‘s “Sag Harbor” should be considered YA fiction, and reported that the novelist acted “huffy” at the classification suggestion.

Literary blogger Edward Champion caught up with Whitehead, getting the author’s opinion about the matter–and a thoughtful short essay about classification in the age of the Internet.

Here’s an excerpt: “If “Sag Harbor” is in YA tomorrow, I wouldn’t care, as long as people who want to read it can pick it up. In some bookstores, I’m in African American as opposed to Fiction; this is a category failure, but it’s out of my control and in the end I’m glad that I’m in the store at all, and hopefully the savvy consumer who is looking for me will find me. What I’m saying is that we write, and then the world categorizes us, and the next day we get up and start writing again.”

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