It all started with Gone Girl. You put it down, red-eyed and dazed, and pushed it into the hands of your less-well-read friend. Another better-read friend told you that The Girl on the Train was the next Gone Girl, then someone else told you that The Luckiest Girl alive was the next Girl on a Train. You, me and thousands of readers around the world became hooked on the next big thrill, binge-reading and discussing these books the same way we watch series.
But how do we find the next literary hit? Enter grip-lit, a handy new term that describes the literary trend that shows no signs of stopping. What is grip-lit, you ask? Most people are describing it as books that are "really gripping," which is the most ridiculous and patronising thing I have heard in my life.
I think it's pretty obvious that grip-lit refers to dark, suburban thrillers aimed primarily at the commercial female market. If we put on our feminist dark glasses for a second, this could be seen as a bad thing. Grip-lit is an obvious tortured cousin to chick-lit, an archaic and belittling literary term for commercial female stories. In fact, the queen of chick-lit herself, Marian Keyes, came up with the term in an interview last year. There is also something a little opportunistic about it....have our reading patterns become so predictable that you can serve us any warped suburban parable with 'Girl' in the title and we're hooked?
I see it as a welcome development. I LOVE a grip-lit story, and appreciate the convenience of now having a handy term to add to my Amazon searches. It's also an opportunity. If this market is so hungry for new books, publishers should have no problem investing in some new voices. How about a heroine that isn't white and living in the US? How about a same-sex marriage with dark suburban secrets?
Either way, I'm looking forward to more nights spent passing out over my Kindle and debriefing over my latest reading obsession with my friends. What do you think of the latest trend? And what are your favourite grip-lit reads?