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Young Adult: Genre or Age Category? For whom is ya-fiction written

The past year has brought Young Adult fans a wave of new stories. Immediately in several publishing houses appeared series marked YA, translated books poured into the market, and some editions announced an open call to find Russian authors who write for young adults. Russian YA already exists but not yet so accessible.

The argument does not cease, what is Young Adult - a genre, a set of genres or an age category? The complexity of the definition lies precisely in the fact that everything is essential here! Let's start with age. It is a mistake to consider YA teenage literature. These books are aimed at readers aged 15-25, but at the same time, they are attractive to many adults who have gone far beyond the upper age limit. What is the matter? Let's look into the eighteenth century: childhood, as an institution, with specialized literature and clothes, stands out only now. Before this, entertaining books for children were not written but dressed both boys and girls in copies of adult dresses. In the middle of the 20th century, another new group stood out - young people, that is, those very teenagers. Teenage clothes and fashion appear.

It is known that the term young adult was first used by the British writer and critic Sarah Trimmer in 1802 to the readers of her magazine, 14–20 years old, "young adults." However, the American writer Susan Hinton was the first to speak about the teenager and his problems as such. In 1967, she published the novel Outlaws, filmed by F. F. Coppola himself, after which the "golden age" of the genre began in the 1970s and 1980s. Books of that time, written in the genre of realism, delved into the taboo topic of teenage problems, but for obvious reasons, they were almost inaccessible in Russia. However, soon the hysteria subsided until the 90s, when Joan Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, John Green burst into the literature. And the Russian reader was finally able to appreciate all the charms of a young adult.

The first step in the modern YA boom was Harry Potter. In front of the fans, the fairy tale about the orphaned boy turned into a story where serious things are discussed, and heroes die for good. The hero whom the readers knew as a boy becomes a young man who, besides a problematic legacy, is interested in everything that interests the young man: love, position in society, the trust of mentors; many traumatic experiences are superimposed on it. The most exciting thing is that readers matured along with the hero - and moved from one age category to another. Then came "Twilight," oriented immediately to late puberty, and more likely to be girlish: the refined aesthetics of vampirism, combined with sociopathy and dreams of a mysterious man.

Around the same time, the word "scammer" is included in the dictionary, and adults openly confess their love for cartoons. They no longer consider it shameful to sort out the Hulk varieties and no longer wrap Harry Potter in an opaque cover in the subway. The period of growing up is stretched. Now, a person, often still financially dependent on his parents, can independently construct his identity, participate in political life, and choose his future path. It becomes normal even after university not to know what you want to become when you grow up; radically change a profession; choose freelance and wintering in warm countries; not have a car or business. It is normal to face these same questions at thirty. We began to grow up longer, more time, and the need for reflection appeared. Hence the need for books whose hero experiences a similar experience.

But what exactly does the hero live in? YA are books about sharp corners. Honest, open, sometimes frank. They talk about the experience of the collision. They have a lot of sincerity, sometimes naivety, and sometimes pain. They put the young hero face to face with the problem. Mental disorders, LGBT, separation from the family, intolerance, bullying, experiencing childhood injuries, and violence are all YA topics. An observation of the formation of an injury or its overcoming. And the very presence of this acute, naked complexity seems to create a separate genre. Any books written for an audience of 16-25 years old can be considered YA? Probably not. Any books on these topics - YA? Again, no.

YA books are written not only in the genre of realism but also in other genres. The market is filled with fantasy, adventure, fiction, mysticism, and detective stories. So, YA is not just a genre but still a collection of genres? Well, perhaps this is true. The outside world is now very similar to dystopia. People are looking for something more stable in literature, a dream of something good, emotional brightness, which helps to abandon dystopic reality. Reading about a hero who is experiencing similar problems and coping with them can support them, especially those in social isolation. YA books have a powerful therapeutic effect. And this cannot but attract new readers to them.

In short, why is YA at the peak of popularity around the world?

• The emergence of a new reading-hungry group - teens who need about them and them today
• Expanding the age of the search period for yourself and a place in the world
• No longer a guilty pleasure, thanks, mom Rowling!
• YA as therapy

Young adults are often blamed for the lack of depth and insufficiently subtle work with the language for excessive directness. We are sure that all this can be combined in one work: the severity and openness of the problem, real experiences, several levels of meanings, and the style of the language. We are looking forward to new YA books!


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