25 February 2013

Street / Urban / Multicultural Literature: Breakin' it down

Educators are still having a hard time making the distinction between Street Lit and Urban Literature, Street Lit and African American Literature, and Street Lit and Multicultural Literature. I want to state that just because there are people of color in a story, that doesn't automatically make the book a Street Lit book and it doesn't automatically classify the book as a contribution to a certain ethnically identified literary genre. I believe that there are significant differences between Street Lit, Urban Literature, and Multicultural Literature.

In my book, The Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature, I make the case that Street Lit is a sub-genre of Urban Literature. Urban Literature is a genre that features stories about city experiences (as opposed to rural experiences), regardless of ethnic identity or socio-economic status. In essence, urban literature are stories about city living (fiction and non-fiction).

Street Lit is a sub-genre of Urban Literature because the stories depict a certain flavor/aspect of city life and reality based on socio-economic status. Many people mistakenly think that Street Lit is an African American / Latino genre and it is not. In yesteryear in America, street lit stories were about European immigrants and their survival stories as low-income city dwellers. Today it’s about the current groups that live in those low income areas and those people just happen to be African American and Latino, for the most part, but by no means, exclusively.

Multicultural Literature doesn't directly factor into Street Lit or Urban Literature, in my humble opinion; unless we’re talking about the fact that the current outcome of Street Lit depicts a diverse group of city dwellers which would include everyone: European Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, and characters of varying sexual orientations, mobility levels, languages, and literacies.


  1. Thanks for the fine post and the distinctions you make. However, as someone who knows little about Street Lit, I have questions. I think primarily I need examples. And I have one question specific tot he things I study: urban fantasy. Is Street Lit related to that, or not so much?

  2. Thank you for your comment and support. I really appreciate it. To answer your question, I see urban fantasy as another sub-genre of Urban Literature as a whole. Urban Literature encompasses stories told in a city setting. From there it branches off into many smaller subsets of which urban fantasy is one, urban erotica another, and street lit as well.

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    1. Thank you M Sajib for your comment and support!

    2. It's really encouraging to know that being an obscure country, Bangladesh could have such a rich site containing really rich literary pieces that can satisfy all categories of readers.

  4. I really hadn't thought about the distinction between urban and street, because I've seen so many people use the terms interchangeably. Thanks for pointing that out! I have major problems with the term "multicultural," since people use it to mean "books about nonwhite people," even if the book is entirely about people of just one group, which would technically just be monocultural all over again.