A friend of mine uses the term “upmarket” for anything posh. A five-star expensive restaurant would be upmarket – Burger King, downmarket. Though, there are certainly people who enjoy dining at a Michelin rated eatery who still crave a Whopper with its special sauce dripping from the sesame seed bun. Years ago, I was friendly with a woman whose husband was a chef at a very pricey, posh New York restaurant. On his days off this chef, with the tall white toque, liked eating at Friendly’s. He simply loved their hamburger (and I loved their chocolate chip mint ice cream in a sugar cone). Sadly Friendly’s, as well as my friendship with the chef’s wife, is no more, though I am glad we had that “moment” together. So... whatever your personal definition of upmarket is, be it for restaurants, department stores, or even hotels, I now ask – what is Upmarket Fiction? Does it mean the story is posh? Will the book only be sold at Neiman Marcus and other high end stores and never be seen on the shelves of a library or neighborhood book store?
Upmarket fiction is a genre the same way mystery, sci-fi, and historical fiction are genres. Upmarket novels are filled with themes and topics ripe for book club discussion and are sometimes referred to as Book Club Fiction which, in my opinion, is a term a lot easier to understand than upmarket.
For the past six months, I've read voraciously as a member of the Great Group Reads committee of the Women’s National Book Association. GGR creates a list of twenty novels and memoirs selected from over two hundred submitted to us from publishers - all upmarket! This coveted list comes out in October to celebrate National Reading Group Month. Take a look at our website www.nationalreadinggroupmonth.org and click on Great Group Reads Selections. You’ll have lists of books from 2009-2018 that’ll make your “to be read” pile grow exponentially! And. in just two months, the 2019 list will be out with twenty more wonderful titles. But I digress – in addition to GGR titles submitted by publishers, I also read a few wonderful books that I picked on my own, all perfect for book clubs. Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens and Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris are two that I devoured and look forward to discussing.
I enjoy talking books with friends and family – actually anyone who wants to unless it’s on an airplane. Please don’t talk to me then. I just want to read! A few of my favorite titles perfect for book clubs with characters who have stayed with me long after I closed the book are A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner, When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel and Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. All three have dual time-lines which I enjoy. I've used that time-travel choreography in crafting my own novel, The Disharmony of Silence, coming out March 5, 2020 by Black Rose Writing—also Upmarket Fiction! And, I’d be remiss if I left out three more favorites, though not with dual time-lines: One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus, Henna House by Nomi Eve, and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I can’t wait for the movie to come out next week!
What are your favorite upmarket titles? If you’d write them in the comments below, I’ll add them to my TBR pile – and then have to buy more bookshelves!