Back in 1999, an activist, by the name of, Sistah Souljah, wrote an urban tale about a woman named, Winter, who seemed to speak for those people in the inner-city who up until that point, didn’t have a voice in literature.
This turn of events, set off the phenomenon that we recognize as urban fiction or, street fiction, today. Since that time, there have been numerous successes in the genre. Including the likes of Carl Weber, Nikki Turner, Teri Woods, Eric Jerome Dickey, Kwan, Ashley & Jaquavis Coleman, Leo Sullivan, just to name a few. These folks have all landed mega-deals with some of the biggest publishers in the industry and a few have even teamed up with the heavyweights of film to create blockbusters, and they all owe Sistah Souljah for breathing life into a genre of literature that up until that point, was dead and long forgotten.
We credit authors such as Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim as being the actual pioneers of the genre, back in the seventies. When their stories of pimp life and chronicled woes of drug addiction, reigned supreme. But since that time, it has faded away into oblivion, until Sistah Souljah came along and invigorated it with the release of, The Coldest Winter Ever.
There are a few newbies who are also trying to make some noise and a few authors who are trying to bring diversity to the genre. Chief among them, Author Stephen J Browder, who feels that urban literature can sometimes be very limited and stereotypical with its depictions of people in the inner-city and the scenarios in which they deal with on an everyday basis.
“I aim to expose the full scope of urban living, not just a watered-down, fragment of it.”He gives this example in his works, Every Ounce You Got To Give,which is a psychological thriller about a tyrant by the name of Saint Matthews who manipulates weak-minded women until they succumb to him completely. The Art Of Affliction,which focuses on an artist named Nadya who has an obvious obsession over her craft and stops at no means to fulfill it, and his latest release, This Can’t Be Us, which focuses on a family with a shocking secret that gets exposed and tears their world apart. These are all complex narratives that are new to urban fiction in an obvious attempt to broaden the genre.
As new readers become fans of urban fiction, the genre appears to be gaining momentum as opposed to losing it and hopefully, this time, will be here to stay. As new insights spring forth and new authors bring fresh, innovative voices, the hope is that they will add to this phenomenon and won’t take away from it and allow it to regress like it has in the past.