Street lit looks at the lives of people living in lower-income city neighborhoods.The stories present realistic characters in realistic environments, often focusing on the characters' everyday lives and their relationships with other characters and their urban environment. This focus on realism makes the books easy for readers to understand and relate to or understand.
As the name "urban fiction" implies, the stories take place in large cities, including New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and Tokyo. Not all street lit is based in the U.S., and it includes a variety of cultural, social, political, geographical, and economic aspects. Street lit set in New Orleans will differ greatly from that based in Tokyo, but they will have similar issues.
Other common characteristics of street lit include:
Since street lit can blend with other genres, there may also be aspects such as:
This text has been provided courtesy of Julie Humphrey, Durham Tech Library
In recent years, many street lit authors have begun to self-publish their books and disseminate them electronically. According to Joe Sutton (IndieReader, 2016), "It’s an established fact that traditional publishing is a mostly white man’s world. Self publishing, on the other hand–free from the inherent gate keeping of agents and publishers–gives otherwise marginalized voices the opportunity to be heard, and read."
Most contemporary street lit focuses on African Americans and so often includes African American Vernacular English (AAVE), hip-hop slang, and American regional dialects.
Titles of these novels often have more than one meaning. Sister Souljah's The Coldest Winter Ever, for example, refers to the season of winter as well as Winter the character.
Similarly, Shannon Holmes's B-More Careful can stand for "be more careful" but also refers to "B-More" as another name for the city of Baltimore.
Street lit has been around for a long time. Consider an example from the late 19th century: Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. It was published in 1893.
It focuses on an Irish immigrant family living in the ghetto who speak an Americanized Irish dialect.The characters struggle to survive in the 19th century world of poverty and violence.