Bonus Material: Why Don’t Romance Writers Get More Critical Respect?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


Romance writers, are, if anything, unashamed of what they do—not the least of which is make a lot of money and have a lot of fun doing it. At the Web site, discussed in our lead article today, the site asks readers to rate each book’s “heat index” (explained below). Readers gobble up the books, but their authors rarely, if ever, get much critical attention, let alone acclaim.

Of course, on the other hand, many so-called literary writers write luke-warm sex scenes. That’s the very reason there’s such a thing as the “Bad Sex Award.” In fact, this year’s winner, Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones, also happened to win the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious book prize.

In a recent essay in the the UK Telegraph, Oliver Marre argued that Littell’s sex scenes were no worse than many others and really, the whole tittering about sex in literature is ultimately self defeating. He pointed out that in 2005, after Giles Coren (food critic and Times journalist) won, Coren said “The reason the award exists is because of a very defeatist, embarrassing, self-flagellatory approach to literature. It’s an anti-literature award.” That’s a statement, if there ever was one, that lends support to romance as very legitimate literature.

What do you think? Is the reason romance writers don’t get more attention or critical acclaim rooted in a puritanical, slightly immature public attitude toward sex? If so, is it different elsewhere in the world?


Tell us in the comments below or via Twitter using the hashtag #ppbonus.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.