According to Wikipedia, the term "New Adult" first appeared in print in a 2009 announcement from St. Martin's Press, marketing a contest aimed at discovering authors who could write "cutting-edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience." Realizing that "twenty-somethings are devouring YA," St. Martin's hoped to find books that could be "published and marketed as adult—a sort of 'older YA' or 'new adult.'" Other publishers quickly followed suit, signing multi-figure book deals with authors who not only wrote about the trials and tribulations of the 18-25 year-old set, but who lived them, most being in their twenties themselves. "New Adult" Fiction Is Now An Official Literary Genre Because Marketers Want Us to Buy Things, proclaims the Jezebel blog, not without some cause.
The One About What New Adult Means to Me, she writes:
...the world is a very different place than it was when YA first became an accepted genre. It used to be that many people got jobs straight out of high school, and only some people went on to college. And usually those who did go to college were more financially and emotionally dependent. Now, it has become the norm to go to college, and for young adults to remain in contact or even dependent upon their parents for years after graduating high school. College is the new high school, and as such that 'growing up' phase has been stretched to include a few extra awkward years.
Whether or not the New Adult market or the New Adult marketers came first, New Adult as a genre is distinctly gendered. All of the "popular authors" listed in Wikipedia's "New Adult" entry are female, as are the majority of those on the catalog of recommended NA Reads on the NA Alley web site. The majority of the books on the NA Alley list also have female narrators, or employ dual narrators, one of whom is a young woman.
The overall question I'm asking, I think, is this: is there feminist potential in the New Adult genre? If so, which books, and which authors, are taking advantage of its feminist possibilities?
Chicken with Dictionary: mofies.com
New Adult: A New Adult Man
Next time on RNFF:
Something of a New Adult flavor...