What is UPLIT and why might it interest me?
If you look up uplit in a dictionary, you’re likely to find that either it doesn’t exist or it’s the past of the verb uplight: to illuminate from below. But google it and you’ll find uplit or up lit is a genre people are starting to talk about. And to read.
Possibly, there is a connection between those two meanings of uplit. It’s about lighting the world from below, from the ordinary people, rather than having to endure spotlights from above.
An uplit novel is one of kindness, compassion and empathy. But it doesn’t sugar-coat the world; it’s “about facing devastation, cruelty, hardship and loneliness and then saying: ‘But there is still this,’” says author Rachel Joyce. Uplit novels are books that embrace difference, idiosyncrasy and those who are either marginalised or overlooked by society.
Uplit is about broken people who become fixed. Three examples are:
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
- Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Uplit gives us readers control. It makes us realise that we can change the world – not the politicians, the dictators or the superstars, but people like you and me. We can make the world a better place, each in our own small way, and the more of us who do it, the greater effect it will have.
Uplit helps us to develop empathy for marginalised groups: immigrants, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities or mental health problems. Sadly and weirdly, another group often labelled as marginalised is women. How can a group that consists of slightly more than half the population be marginalised? Yet, it is.
My new novel, Cultivating a Fuji, to be published by Crooked Cat Books in May, focuses on a marginalised character who doesn’t have a voice, at least not a spoken one. He is not able to explain how or why or who he is. And most people naturally fail to understand and simply label him as weird. Fortunately, a few of those he meets attempt to delve deeper, to reach inside his fortified exterior, and they are the characters who give the novel its uplit flavour. He is the only person who can turn his life around, but he needs those kind, understanding characters.
“No man is an island entire of itself.” ~John Donne
If the novel helps to create more empathy in our fragmented world, I will be delighted. But most of all, Cultivating a Fuji is a good story, even though I have to say it myself, for now.