January 18, 2018

Exploring Genreland: Rural noir

A subset of crime fiction, rural noir focuses on the hardscrabble lives of working-class rural Americans. Readers enjoy this genre for its flawed characters, strong sense of place, and evocative writing. Fans of hardboiled fiction will be drawn to rural noir's anti-heroes and gritty depictions of crime and corruption on both sides of the law. And, with its unflinching examination of the issues faced by many rural American communities, rural noir offers social commentary that may appeal to fans of Scandinavian crime fiction.

Susan Brown writes a great introduction to this genre with some classic recommendations in Rural Noir: the Dirty South (and Beyond) in Contemporary Fiction. Find it in NoveList by searching UI 445148:

Part of what makes rural noir especially appealing is its exploration of the dark side of the American Dream. Rural noir doesn't shy away from depictions of sex and violence; nor does it moralize when it comes to complex social issues such as crime, poverty, or substance abuse. These books are also good reads for fans of podcasts like S-Town.

Many users may be interested in exploring these weighty topics through nonfiction. This rack card provides some issue-oriented reading suggestions for rural noir fans. Find more templates by searching for “rural noir” in LibraryAware. And remember, if these books whet your appetite for more true stories, you should definitely check out the Navigating Nonfiction e-mails delivered to your inbox from the Book Squad.

For more help navigating the expansive world of genre, check our video tutorial and flip through our genre guide.

Want to know more about using pop culture to improve your readers’ advisory? Watch our popular webinar with NoveList librarians Autumn Winters and Rebecca Honeycutt.

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Gillian Speace is a NoveList Readers' Advisory Librarian and a member of the NoveList Book Squad

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