Software Nerd

Friday, November 17, 2006

A new genre of Fiction: Business novels

David blogged about business decisions, asking: Do you have a sense yet for the excitement of markets? ... Why doesn't Hollywood make movies about THIS, rather than yet another gang of thieves bickering with each other as they complete yet another caper?

Made me wonder why there is no "business story" genre of fiction. If we have "sci fi" novels and "war novels" and "crime novels", why not a genre like "business novels"? Non-fiction biographies of businessmen sell pretty well, as do the various "pop" books on getting rich, investing, being successful and so on.

There is some fiction in this category, but not enough -- I wonder if the topic does not interest most authors. As someone who prefers reality-based fiction (I don't care for fantasy and sci-fi, qua fantasy and qua sci-fi), I'd love to see more fiction of that type.


  • SN: "I wonder if the topic does not interest most authors."

    I think that's true, but here's another explanation. Notice that the most insightful detective/legal stories are often written by ex-lawyers, investigators, medical examiners, and so on (e.g. Grisham). Also, the best spy thrillers are often written by ex-CIA or people with ties to the military (e.g. Thom Clancy).

    A writer can kind of hop, skip, and jump over the details of some kinds of jobs, but it would be very difficult to do that with a Wall Street drama (meaning not just a love story set on Wall Street, but a real play-by-play, behind-the-scenes business drama). I think it would almost take a retired executive to get the details right or at least a writer with direct access to those kinds of people. Most of us just don't have a clue about what goes on behind boardroom doors.

    But now I see that my point doesn't really answer your question. After all, where are the John Grishams of the business world? Hmmm... Could be a cultural thing. Business people are almost always shown as the bad guys these days.

    By Blogger Toiler, at 11:34 AM  

  • I recommend "A Woman of Substance" by Barbara Taylor Bradford. And what about Horatio Alger? IIRC around the turn of the century there were lots of "rags-to-riches" stories out there, and you can certainly find them in every genre.

    Books of this kind just go in the catch-all "Fiction" genre. I actually prefer bookstores that subdivide their books a lot more thoroughly . . . browse the "fiction" department and you never know WHAT you're going to end up with.

    Another problem is that a lot of business activities don't involve a tremendous amount of *conflict*, even though they can be *exciting*. (A punch in the nose for anyone that thinks business is "dog-eat-dog".) You can't have an actual novel without a *conflict*. If you have, say, a grand dramatic romance, or two hated rivals battling each other, the business stuff is background and setting and actually becomes kind of irrelevant for determining what genre the book should go in.

    "Big" business is often portrayed as the bad guy in the mass media, but I think this is largely because it's politically incorrect to battle the Germans or the Russians any more and your average-run-of-the-mill melodramatic superhero has to battle SOME kind of gigantic faceless entity, and some people have problems in the suspension-of-disbelief area when it's The Matrix.

    By Blogger Jennifer Snow, at 7:20 AM  

  • There are lots of them. Maybe you haven't been looking in the right places. A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe, comes to mind. The central character is a real estate developer, Charles Croker, A key early scene takes place in a meeting room in a bank, a "work out" meeting.

    Jeff Cox has made a career out of the business-novel genre.
    He co-authored The Goal, Zapp, Heroz, and The Quadrant Solution. He is the sole author of The Venture, about a start-up company.

    Stephen Frey, too, seems to do very well with this sort of fiction. The Insider. The Chairman. Power Broker. And so forth.

    By Anonymous Christopher, at 1:11 PM  

  • Thanks for the book suggestions. I've added those to my Amazon list.

    I thought of one other novel -- A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute -- which is about business success.

    By Blogger softwareNerd, at 11:16 AM  

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