Accumulation was never meant to specifically be a work of transgressive fiction. In fact, one the main themes of the novel is the limiting effect of labels. Once the book was written, edited and ready to be released into the world, the first question everyone asked was – ‘What genre is your book?’ It was something I never thought about while writing Accumulation. I just wanted to write a novel I would buy for myself if I saw it in a bookstore. But I guess everything in this world needs labels, even my anti-label novel.
First I had to decide if my book was commercial or literary fiction. In other words, is my book entertainment or a work of art? Accumulation is definitely an entertaining read, but a lot of the story is open to interpretation, like many works of art. For me, the novel fell somewhere in between the two choices I was given. Unfortunately ‘somewhere in the middle’ isn’t an acceptable choice these days; a side had to be chosen.
Commercial fiction is also called genre fiction because of the long list of genres it is divided into, while literary fiction is its own genre. I thought maybe Accumulation could fall into one of commercial fiction’s genres or even one of its many sub-genres, so I went that direction. The problem I soon ran into is that my book is partly a mystery, partly a thriller, a little bit philosophical/existentialist and has a splash of horror, but isn’t specifically any one of the above. Accumulation never takes itself too seriously, so the one thread running throughout the book is its humorous/satirical nature. As humor and satire are genres on their own, I ‘officially’ chose dark humor (my book isn’t a light comedy) and satire for my listing on Amazon. Being forced to label my novel something it truly wasn’t never sat well with me. It felt like I was selling my book short to potential readers.
After people actually started reading Accumulation, the inevitable comparisons to other books and authors were communicated to me. Anything we aren’t familiar with has to look, sound or feel like something else known to us; I suppose we need reference points to help us process what we consider new. Luckily for me, the comparisons were flattering. Some readers said my writing reminded them of Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis, two writers who’ve given me a lot of inspiration. One reader even told me that he could see a lot of Charles Bukowski in my work, which was amazing to hear. I soon discovered that these authors have something in common, they are all considered transgressive writers. I quickly educated myself on the transgressive fiction genre and what I learned made me feel my book may have just found its genre.
Accumulation is about a character who finds himself breaking (or transgressing) societal norms, so in that way, the book can be considered transgressive fiction. Of course, that’s an over-simplification of a genre that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. What I think makes my novel truly transgressive, is that by not being able to be placed into any one literary genre, Accumulation transgresses the boundaries of all existing genres. A novel that refuses to adhere to literature’s labeling conventions can be nothing else but transgressive fiction.