Depending who you ask, the literary genre known as street lit began when Charles Dickens published Oliver Twist …or in 1969, when Iceberg Slim came out with Pimp. These gritty, slightly lurid, often violent stories focus on the underside of city life.
People like Wahida Clark, a New York Times best-selling author three times over, are becoming more and more successful as thug lit comes into its own. Other popular titles in the genre include Brother and the Dancer and The Ski Mask Way. Now, with several new imprints and tie-ins with the hip hop market, street lit is making a play for the mainstream market. Darren Sands is a New York based writer and a freelance reporter for the New York Observer, where he wrote an article called “Holler if You Read Me: African-American Writers -- and Readers – Fret Over the Future of Thug Lit.” We spoke with him about the state of thug lit and its rising popularity.