Chick lit

From ArticleWorld

Chick lit has become a catch-all for mass-market books, usually by women, that are light-hearted but address serious issues about the lives, times, preoccupations, and troubles of contemporary women, often young. The genre has its roots in the massive publishing success in the mid- and late-1990s of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones' Diary, Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City and the eponymous TV series, and Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

Conventions and themes

The genre, which is often formula fiction, is characterized by certain themes – things going wrong in a young woman's life, trouble at the office, bad boyfriends, concerns about weight and lack of ambition – and a preponderance of quotidian detail, narrative threads about shopping, eating junk food, drinking too much, careers in advertising or publishing, expectant parents, and expectations soured. There are many sub-genres now revolving around any of these elements: the 'tell-all' office story, the serious rock-bottom, the self-discovery, the married man, the overlooked love, etc. Chick lit is not romance writing, and the tropes and conventions differ considerably.


Chick lit books are often criticized for glamorizing self-destructive, unproductive and regressive attitudes prevelant in young women today. The term has dismissive connotations – chick from US slang for 'girl' and lit short for literature, as well as the homonymous Chiclets chewing gum, which suggests gum-popping adolescent uncaringness. On the other hand, many post-feminists see liberating possibilities in acknowledging the range of women's experiences, as well as in telling modern stories from female perspectives.

Titles and presses

Chick lit is a large and fast-growing part of the publishing industry today, and presses and imprints such as Red Dress Ink and Strapless focus only on chick lit. Perhaps spurred on by Maeve Binchy, a forerunner of the genre, a number of highly successful writers are Irish, such as Sheila O'Flanagan, Cecilia Ahern, and Patricia Scanlan. The term chick lit now encompasses even some literary fiction and non-fiction, such as Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr Latte, as well as stories about older or married women. Chick lit titles and authors include: Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series, Marian Keyes's Sushi for Beginners , Jennifer O'Connell's Bachelorette and Jane Green's Mr Maybe.