Publishers (and Authors): Don’t Forget This Side of YA

When Karam Youssef of Kotob Khan released her best-seller list for the first half of 2010, she did not place Randa Abdel-Fattah’s Where the Streets Had a Name on the list of young people’s books, but with the grown-up literature.

It’s a reasonable placement. I know grown-ups who have bought this (Young Adult) book in Arabic. Those grown-ups have enjoyed it.

This is by way of underlining what Pamela Paul notes in the NYTimes: Many books written for “children” can also become popular with adults. Paul writes:

The percentage of female Y.A. fans between the ages of 25 and 44 has nearly doubled in the past four years. Today, nearly one in five 35- to 44-year-olds say they most frequently buy Y.A. books. For themselves.

There is still little Y.A. for the Arabic-reading public, although translations of Twilight and the Harry Potter books certainly show the possibilities of this market segment. Perhaps some authors feel the intellectual heft is in writing books for grown-ups, although many English-language authors, such as award-winning Sherman Alexie and Tobias Wolff, have also written books for the under-18s.

Perhaps some award-winning Arabic authors will also cross the divide.

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