Regular readers of the New York Times may have read this week's article "From the Streets to the Libraries" which described why so many public libraries are buying "street lit." The article's writer seemed surprised by how widely libraries have been embracing street lit, sometimes also called "urban fiction." The books and other library materials that public libraries buy should reflect community interests. Here in Philadelphia, we know that street lit is "hot." So we buy lots. Just as we buy all kinds of other books, which is what you should expect in a city the size of Philadelphia.
Authors like Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim started the trend back in the 1960's and 70's. A number of authors today, such as Philadelphia's Teri Woods, began publishing their own books and still do, although a number of larger publishing companies began picking up these authors after they saw how successful they were. Street lit can get a conversation going, with some people concerned about the street language and depictions of violence, drugs and sex. Omar Tyree, an author who has been part of the Free Library's author series, has recently said that he is not going to write any more street lit books. Street lit titles are so popular though with many readers because they feel "real" to their readers.
What do you think? Here are links to books the Free Library owns of several of the authors mentioned in the NYT article:
Teri Woods. Click here ( Street Lit panel ) to listen to a podcast of the December 2007 panel discussion on street lit which included Teri Woods, Shannon Holmes, and Solomon Jones.
Upcoming: Sister Souljah is speaking at Parkway Central on December 20 at 2:00 about her forthcoming book Midnight: A Gangster Love Story.