Genre: Urban Fiction

Benchmark: The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah


Urban fiction, also known as street lit or street fiction is a literary genre set in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside of city living. Profanity, sex, and violence are usually explicit, with the writer not shying away from or watering-down the material. Most authors of this genre draw upon their past experiences to depict their storylines. (Munshi, Neil (2015-11-13). “Urban fiction: words on the street“. Financial Times.)

Resources for Street Literature

Getting Up to Speed in Urban Fiction
Top Urban Fiction By: SFPL_FictionLibrarians
Waiting for “Empire” Reading and Viewing List

RA Books:
Urban grit : a guide to street lit / Megan Honig.
The readers’ advisory guide to street literature / Vanessa Irvin Morris ; foreword by Teri Woods.

Notes from our session:

Readers’ Advisory Round Table Western Mass
Urban Fiction
20 September 2016
Pelham Library

Favorite Summer Reads:

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers
Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood, read by Stephanie Daniel
Radio Girls by Sarah Jane Stratford
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
The Girls by Emma Cline
The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey
S. M. Stirling books
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Val McDermid rebuts the idea that only literary fiction increases empathy in readers in the Guardian:

(original piece:

Urban Fiction Benchmark discussion: The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah


How do you know if your patrons want it if you don’t have it for them to know it exists?

We Need Diverse Books
“ghetto porn”
Romance – Urban Fiction – service to patrons
“It’s hard”

Patrons will ask for “drama books” or by publisher (ex. Triple Crown)
Books with drugs in them
Shared context between reader and author
Urban Christian
Uncertain economic circumstances/family vulnerability

Authors: Skyy, Ashley Antoine, K’wan, Zane, E. Lynn Harris, Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim

The Cartel series by Ashley and JaQuavis

Library Journal has intermittently published a column on Street Lit, the most recent I found was from 2013:

Second Titles:

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
Choices by Skyy (lesbians, college)
Never Die Alone by Donald Goines (classic)
Shetani’s Sister by Iceberg Slim (classic)
Midnight: a Gangster Love Story by Sister Souljah (sequel/companion to The Coldest Winter Ever)
Push by Sapphire (graphic)
Luxe by Ashley Antoinette (college, drug mule, 2 POVs)
Gangsta by K’wan
All The Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers (teen)
Soulmates Dissipate by Mary B. Morrison (christian)
The Hot Box by Zane (2 POVs)
Just as I am by E. Lynn Harris (bi)
The Cartel by Ashley & JaQuavis (gangsters, shootout in the courtroom)
Flint Saga by Treasure Hernandez (see also Baltimore Chronicles)
Animal by K’wan

Next meeting: Historical Fiction – Prehistory to Tudor (1485)
Benchmark: Pompeii by Robert Harris
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 9:45 am-Noon at MLS Northampton