Over the last few decades, the genre of urban fiction—or street lit—has become increasingly popular as more novels secure a place on bestseller lists that were once the domain of mainstream authors. In the 1970s, pioneers such as Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim, and Claude Brown paved the way for today’s street fiction novelists, poets, and short story writers, including Sister Souljah, Kenji Jasper, and Colson Whitehead.
In Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape, Keenan Norris has assembled a varied collection of articles, essays, interviews, and poems that capture the spirit of urban fiction and nonfiction produced from the 1950s through the present day. Providing both critical analyses and personal insights, these works explore the street lit phenomenon to help readers understand how and why this once underground genre has become such a vital force in contemporary literature. Interviews with literary icons David Bradley, Gerald Early, and Lynel Gardner are balanced with critical discussions of works by Goines, Jasper, Whitehead, and others.
With an introduction by Norris that explores the roots of street lit, this collection defines the genre for today’s readers and provides valuable insights into a cultural force that is fast becoming as important to the American literary scene as hip-hop is to music. Featuring a foreword by bestselling novelist Omar Tyree (Flyy Girl) and comprised of works by scholars, established authors, and new voices, Street Lit will inspire any reader who wants to understand the significance of this sometimes controversial but unquestionably popular art form.