My Brother’s Keeper, by Donna Malane (HarperCollins, 2013), 272 pp., $29.99
All fiction is escapist. A reader of a novel looks to be transported into a special place that the late Nigel Cox called ‘Fictionland’. In addition, our approach to fiction wanders between two poles: we want the excitement of the new and the reassurance of the familiar. When we step out of our transporter onto the surface of Fictionland we are looking for adventure but we also like to know, at the very least, that we understand this world enough to make our way in it. This is the reason we return to a favourite author, be it Jane Austen or Ian Rankin. Given these general features of the reading experience, is there any meaningful difference between ‘popular’ and ‘literary’ fiction?
CHRIS ELSE is a novelist, and a partner in TFS Literary Agency and Assessment Service. He lives in Wellington.