A while back, I started a facebook group, Christian Fiction UK. But American authors kept asking to join it and, as soon as they did, using it to aggressively promote their Christian fiction. So I then remove them from the group or block them. Why do I do this? What have I got against American writers?
Well, I don’t really have anything against them. I’ve read most of the ‘Left Behind’ series, and I love Frank Perretti’s books (The Visitation is brilliant and I’d love to write a review of it for this blog). But to me it seems that American and British Christian fiction have different worldviews, different feels and different themes.
British fiction is marked by uncertainty, humour, allusion, allegory, relationships, doubt, failure, and the risks taken by God when he leaves his plans in faulty human hands.
American fiction is marked by surety, the primacy of prayer and faith, seriousness, individuality, success, unswerving belief in the bible and the power of God to sort everything out at the end.
Compare ‘Daydream Believer’ by Mike Burke to ‘Fireproof’ by Alex Kendrick. In the first, a vicar is beset by doubts and goes on a road trip with a tribute band to help clear his head. He returns with some answers but with more questions and a wider worldview. In the second, a firefighter’s marriage is on the rocks but gets sorted out when the man becomes a Christian. The first is complex, open-ended, suggests answers but allows the reader to decide for themselves. The second is simplistic, closed, and allows for no questions. Or compare ‘An Alien at St. Wilfred’s’ against ‘This Present Darkness’ – both have angels, but they are so different. A tiny, diffident strange being who offers weakness and subtle insights, or huge, strong, powerful fighters who swipe and kill demons with bright swords.
What do you think? Is this distinction right and fair? And if so, which sort of fiction would you prefer to read?
Personally, I prefer the themes that I find in British Christian fiction. And there just isn’t enough of it.