Up Lit could be the latest literary genre. The term was coined in a recent Guardian article in response to the success of novels such as Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. (Incidentally, these two books made my top ten reads for 2017.) You might say this is a genre with empathy at its core, a welcome break from the psychological thrillers that have been claiming top spots on the best-seller lists – books like Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) and Girl on a Train (Paula Hawkins).
But is Up Lit anything we haven’t seen before? For me there’s nothing better than a decently chilling crime novel – brooding Scandi Noir, Kiwi Noir or even Welsh Noir. But every now and then along comes a book that is heartwarming without being in the least mawkish – sharp, witty and well-written in equal proportions.
I’ve been hunting out these books out for years and they are the books I store away to read again. Some are centred around family crises, others feature unlikely friendships or oddball characters. I’ve listed below a few of the titles I’ve discovered and while some are more literary than others, all are terrific pick-me-up reads that will remind you of what being human is all about.
Up Lit Novels:
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Ann Shaffer
- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
- The Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler (and lots more by this author)
- Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale (ditto)
- Faith Fox by Jane Gardam (also the Filth trilogy)
- Dancing Backwards by Salley Vickers
- Guppies for Tea by Marika Cobbold
- The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
- The Roundabout Man by Clare Morrall
- The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
4 thoughts on “Up Lit – Is it Anything New?”
Mystery/thriller remains my favourite genre overall. That being said, I am loving the recent popularity of ‘up-lit’. I loved “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine”. “The trouble with goats and sheep” is on my TBR. Also, I read and very much enjoyed: “A man called Ove” by Fredrik Backman (the novel I recommend most often to everybody), “Britt-Marie was here” by Fredrik Backman,”The storied life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin, “The diary of Hendrik Groen” by Hendrik Groen, “The story of Arthur Truluv” by Elizabeth Berg, and “The music shop” by Rachel Joyce.
Thank you – I now have a few more to add to my list too.
Love Patrick Gale and Jane Gardam. More for their wittiness than any empathetic quality, I think.