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Reader's Corner - Urban Fiction: Getting Started

A guide to street literature resources at the Boston Public Library and online.

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You can use terms such as  "Urban Fiction," "Inner Cities," and "Street Life," as subject or keyword searches in the Boston Public Library catalog to quickly find additional titles.

Urban Fiction

"Urban fiction, also known as street lit or street fiction is a literary genre set, as the name implies, in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban literature is usually dark, focusing on the underside of city life. The characters tend to be African-American or Latino. Sometimes the characters portray thugs, homegirls or’s based on urban life and real-life experiences."  - Sherrod Tunstall, The Journal (Webster University)

Other names for this genre are: Hip Hop Fiction, Gangsta Lit, or Ghetto Lit.


  • Modern urban inner-city setting
  • Page-turning plot
  • Language often uses slang and is meant to reflect the way people speak in the community

Urban Fiction is often described by one of the following general categories:

Street Fiction: story focus is on street life, with frank depictions of violence, crime and drug use; survival is a key theme

Drama Lit:  story focus is on family and romantic relationships and their struggles

Urban Erotica: story focus is on explicitly described sexual encounters

- Novelist

Popular Urban Fiction Authors