'Island Genres, Genre Islands' moves the debate about literature and place onto new ground by exploring the island settings of bestsellers. Through a focus on four key genres—crime fiction, thrillers, popular romance fiction, and fantasy fiction—Crane and Fletcher show that genre is fundamental to both the textual representation of real and imagined islands and to actual knowledges and experiences of islands. The book offers broad, comparative readings of the significance of islandness in each of the four genres as well as detailed case studies of major authors and texts. These include chapters on Agatha’s Christie’s islands, the role of the island in ‘Bondspace,’ the romantic islophilia of Nora Roberts’s Three Sisters Island series, and the archipelagic geography of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea. Crane and Fletcher’s book will appeal to specialists in literary studies and cultural geography, as well as in island studies.
Introduction: Reading Genre Islands/ Part I: Island Crime, Crime Islands/ 1 The Body on the Island: The Insular Geography of Crime Fiction/ 2 Whodunit? Agatha Christie’s Islands/ 3 The Postcolonial Geography of Island Crime: G. W. Kent’s Solomon Island Series/ Part II: Island Thrillers, Thriller Islands/ 4 Top Secret Islands: The Geography of Espionage and Adventure/ 5 Paradise Threatened: The Bond Islands/ 6 The Proximity of Islands: Dirk Pitt’s Insular Adventures / Part III: Island Romance, Romance Islands/ 7 I ♥Islands: The Emotional Geography of Popular Romance/ 8 Love on the Isle of Man: Margaret Evans Porter’s The Islanders Series/ 9 The Island Happy Ever After: Nora Roberts’s Three Sisters Island Trilogy/ Part IV: Island Fantasy, Fantasy Islands/ 10 Islands of the World: The Archipelagic Geography of Fantasy Fiction/ 11 Putting Islands on the Fantasy Map: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea/ 12 An Imaginary Water World: Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders Trilogy/ Epilogue/ Bibliography/ Index
This is a highly original and hugely readable book, offering detailed readings of texts by all our favourite genre writers, from Agatha Christie to Ursula K. Le Guin. It is the Island focus, however, that really secures its significance. The range of islands is genuinely global, the intellectual ‘reach’ both serious and innovative, and the research-base impressive. I loved it.
Atlantis, Avalon, Utopia, Lilliput, Treasure Island, and so on: fictional islands have always captivated the literary imagination. Unsurprisingly, then, the study of the insula in popular fiction presents a unique perspective upon the literary geography of this evocative space. In Island Genres, Genre Islands, Ralph Crane and Lisa Fletcher explore the fascinating relations between the representative site of the island and popular genre fiction. Focusing on four distinctive genres—crime fiction, thrillers, romance, and fantasy—Crane and Fletcher disclose the effects of the insular locale on a number of bestsellers, and thus offer a major contribution to studies of popular culture, spatiality, and comparative literature.
Given the importance of the field of island studies in the past decade, this is a timely examination of the western literary imagination in contemporary island genre fiction. Arguing for the need to think beyond metaphor to the issue of genre, Crane and Fletcher helpfully direct our attention to detective novels, thrillers, romance, and fantasy. Taking us on a journey through a geographic imaginary of space and place, island and archipelago, land and water, and other spatial tropes, the authors insightfully engage the work of Agatha Christie, G.W. Kent, Ian Fleming, Clive Cussler, Nora Roberts, Margaret Evans Porter, Ursula LeGuin, and Robin Hobb.
Structurally, Island Genres, Genre Islands considers four key popular genres—crime fiction, thrillers, popular romance fiction, and fantasy fiction—from the perspective of island (literary) studies. Organised in these four parts, the highly readable text, made up of 12 short chapters of around 10 pages each, plus an epilogue, will be a seminal contribution to the field of island studies
As this book shows, islands are commonly used as locations for popular fiction but there’s an ever-present risk of homogeneity in the representations of islands. Islands can provide passing exoticism for the purposes of plot but they must eventually be left behind.
To paraphrase Mond from [Aldous Huxley’s] Brave New World, it’s lucky that there are such a lot of genres and island fiction publications in the world – as well as researchers such as Crane and Fletcher to analyse them.
Like a cruise liner, Crane and Fletcher’s Island Genres, Genre Islands takes its readers on a journey around various genre islands, making brief stops at selected ports. While the cruise experience would be enriched by disembarking from the ship and spending more time onshore at crime atoll, thriller island, the isle of popular romance, and the archipelago of fantasy, or by having visited them previously, the on-board lecture programme ensures that all travellers will return home feeling more knowledgeable about the differences between them and convinced that “[p]opular fiction offers […] a potent site for identifying and unpacking habits of thinking about distinctive natural environments” (xi).
Ralph Crane is Professor of English at the University of Tasmania. He has written or edited over twenty books, and published numerous journal articles and book chapters, mainly in the area of colonial and postcolonial fictions. His recent work includes several publications in the area of island studies.
Lisa Fletcher is Associate Professor of English at the University of Tasmania. She is the author of Historical Romance Fiction: Heterosexuality and Performativity (2008) and the editor of Popular Fiction and Spatiality: Reading Genre Settings (2016). Her current research focuses on popular fiction in the twenty-first century.