According to a recent New York Times article ("From the Streets to the Library," Oct. 22, 2008), the gritty and sometimes controversial genre known as urban fiction, street lit or gangsta lit is gaining popularity in some urban libraries. Mirroring the often violent street life in city neighborhoods, some libraries feel the fast-growing genre is bringing new people into libraries and encouraging literacy. Critics, however, have complained the genre perpetuates stereotypes.
The Times quotes one reader who grew up in Rockaway, Queens: “I read what I can relate to,” she said. “They’re writing about what I’ve experienced. It’s easier than reading about Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.” Another enthusiast said, “It actually helps you understand what’s going on around you, instead of walking around blind.”
If you wish to sample life on the mean streets, try these books:
Dirty Red and Still Dirty by Vicki Stringer
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
Reasonable Doubt by Mark Anthony
Black Gangster by Donald Goines
Is street lit for you? Let us know.