What is urban literature
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What is Urban literature?. Urban Fiction Street Fiction Gangsta Lit Ghetto Lit Hip-Hop Lit Black Pulp Fiction. What is Urban literature?.

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What is Urban literature?

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What is urban literature

What is Urban literature?

  • Urban Fiction

  • Street Fiction

  • Gangsta Lit

  • Ghetto Lit

  • Hip-Hop Lit

  • Black Pulp Fiction


What is urban literature1

What is Urban literature?

“A set of fast-paced, gritty novels about street life. These novels typically take place in urban settings and feature protagonists of color, usually African Americans. Often considered the literary kin to rap music, street-lit novels feature many elements common in contemporary rap; sex, drugs, crime, flashy material goods, and up-to-date street slang”

-Megan Honig


Iceberg slim and the rise of the black experience novel

Iceberg Slim and the rise of the “black experience novel”

  • Born Robert Lee Maupin in 1918 in Chicago, died of diabetes complication in 1992

  • Pimped from ages 18-42 before reforming


Iceberg slim and the rise of the black experience novel1

Iceberg Slim and the rise of the “black experience novel”

  • Incarcerated several times. Begins writing his story during a 10 month solitary confinement

  • Publisher Holloway House has calls for black writers to give account of the "black experience"


Iceberg slim and the rise of the black experience novel2

Iceberg Slim and the rise of the “black experience novel”

  • This book became the infamous 1969 work Pimp: The Story Of My Life


Iceberg slim and the rise of the black experience novel3

Iceberg Slim and the rise of the “black experience novel”

  • Iceberg Slim would go on to write 6 more books

  • Each highlighted the brutality of life in the ghetto, the criminal activity, and struggles of the ghetto's inhabitants in an unprecedented way


Donald goines

Donald Goines

  • Born in Detroit In 1936, killed by gunshot with his wife in 1974

  • Began writing during incarceration after reading Iceberg Slim's work

  • Wrote 16 titles in 5 years!


Donald goines1

Donald Goines


The rise of the contemporary urban fiction novel

The rise of the contemporary urban fiction novel

Mainstream publishing first began producing modern urban fiction novels in the late 1990's

Flyy Girl (1996)

by Omar Tyree

Push (1996)

by Sapphire


The rise of the contemporary urban fiction novel1

The rise of the contemporary urban fiction novel

Sister Souljah became most successful, with 1 million copies sold

The Coldest Winter Ever (1999)

by Sister Souljah


Self promotion brings tremendous growth

Self promotion brings tremendous growth

  • After Sister Souljah’s success, many writers began putting together their own stories

  • But publishers still hadn't gotten entirely on board

  • Many writers self-published and promoted, selling out of car trunks, at prison bus stops, at street booths, and online


Self promotion brings tremendous growth1

Self promotion brings tremendous growth

  • These were such writers as K'wan, Vickie Stringer, Teri Woods, Nikki Turner, Tanika Lynch, and Zane, who remain extremely popular.


What is urban literature

  • Many young adults read adult street lit, so it's important to know about these authors

    • Though marketed towards an adult audience, these books often have teenage protagonists


What is urban literature

  • Significant titles published in the last 12 years

  • Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez

    • Ex Latin Queen and Latin King wrote about experiences, lessons, and escape from circumstances

    • Used pen names to keep identity safe


What is urban literature

  • Significant titles published in the last 12 years

Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez


What is urban literature

  • Significant titles published in the last 12 years

The Precious Cummings Books

by Deja King


What is urban literature

  • Significant titles published in the last 12 years

From Pieces To Weight by 50 Cent


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

  • During the early 2000's, both indie and major publishers began adding young adult imprints for urban/street lit

    • "These tamer titles tend to follow a familiar ply -- involving teen characters in the same dicey situations as adults. But unlike adult urban fiction, teen titles often keep sex and violence at arm's length. Teen street lit also often includes warnings about the harmful consequences of destructive or criminal behavior." (Pattee 30)


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

  • During the early 2000's, both indie and major publishers began adding young adult imprints for urban/street lit

    • "Urban lit in its pure form is nothing if not authentic, and harsh realism is its hallmark." (Peach 17)


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

Bluford High Series


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

Drama High Series by L. Divine


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

KimaniTru


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

HotlantaSeries

by Mitzi Miller and DeneneMillne


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

Ride Wit' Me by Katina King


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

The Anderson Family Books

by Alan Lawrence Sitomer


What is urban literature

  • The Rise Of Young Adult Urban Fiction

Tyrell by Coe Booth


Criticism and controversy

criticism and controversy

Themes

  • Race

  • Class

  • Gender

  • Sexuality

  • Harsh Depiction of reality


Criticism and controversy1

criticism and controversy

Content

  • Crime

  • Graphic Violence

  • Graphic Sex

  • Explicit Language

  • Misogyny

  • Homophobia


Criticism and controversy2

criticism and controversy

Literary Quality

  • Spelling and grammar errors

  • Heavy use of slang

  • Seen as “trash” or “dumbed down literature”


Criticism and controversy3

criticism and controversy

Portrayal of African Americans

  • Inaccurate

  • Perpetuates racism and stereotypes

  • Glamorizes “thug lifestyle”


Criticism and controversy4

criticism and controversy

“Actions and portrayals of one or a group of African Americans are presumed to reflect on all African American people. For this reason, upwardly mobile African American readers may be concerned that the characters, situations, and language of street lit reflect on them personally. Hidden in this fear is anxiety about social class. Elements that appear in street lit reflect a stigmatized underclass from which critics of the genre may be eager to distance themselves.”

-Megan Honig


Criticism and controversy5

criticism and controversy

Which shelf does Urban Lit belong on?

  • With African American Fiction or “Black Experience”?

  • Separate Urban Lit section?


Criticism and controversy6

criticism and controversy

  • “As I stood there in Borders, I was ashamed and mortified to see my books sitting on the same shelves as these titles…I must say that I retain very little of the hope and excitement and enthusiasm that I had when my first book was published eight years ago. I feel defeated, disrespected and troubled about the future of my community and my little subsection of this carnivorous, unforgiving industry.”

  • -Nick Chiles

  • African American Author


What is urban literature

Benefits of Urban Lit

Promotes Literacy

  • Exposure/gateway to new types of literature

  • Can be used as powerful literacy tool by libraries


Benefits of urban lit

Benefits of Urban Lit

Personal connection with text

  • Able to read about African American characters within modern literature

  • Any grammatical errors and lack of punctuation lends itself to the authentic feel


Benefits of urban lit1

Benefits of Urban Lit

Personal connection with text

  • Reading Urban Lit “validates the reader’s ability of urban inner-city life because it connects the fantastical (the sheer trauma of the drama in ghetto life) with narratives that say, ‘Yes, this exists; yes, this is real’…it is the streets telling their stories back to the people”

    -Vanessa Irvin Morris


Benefits of urban lit2

Benefits of Urban Lit

Reading as an escape

  • Fun to read

    • Very plot-driven and fast-paced

    • Connections to hip-hop culture and well-known brands

  • Appeal due to controversial topics such as sex and violence

  • Contrast to mandatory school reading

    • Leisure reading enhances reading skills


Benefits of urban lit3

Benefits of Urban Lit

open lines of communication

  • Parents can use urban lit as opportunity to openly discuss difficult topics

  • Stories can be viewed as “cautionary tales” or “urban Cinderella stories”


Benefits of urban lit4

Benefits of Urban Lit

open lines of communication

  • Can be used by reader to reflect on and understand own lives

  • Participation in open forums / book discussions

    • Re-evaluate and analyze depiction of characters

  • Widener Teen Street Lit Book Club run by Philadelphia Public Library


What is urban literature

6 steps to meeting urban lit reader’s needsFrom Megan Honig’s “Takin’ it to the Street: Teens and Street Lit”

  • Respect The Genre

  • Provide Satisfying Alternatives

  • Provide Access

  • Collect Urban Lit

  • Use Urban Lit in Library Programs

  • Broaden Your Collection


Recommended reads

Recommended reads

The Bully:

Bluford High Series

by Paul Langan

Drama High: So, So Hood

by L. Devine

Keysha’s Drama by Kimani Tru


Recommended reads1

Recommended reads

My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King

by Reymundo Sanchez

Upgrade U

by Ni-Ni Simone

Who Am I Without Him by Sharon Flake

  • Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty

  • by G.Neri


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