Feelgood or Uplit?
“Feelgood ” refers to films or books that portray people and life in a way that makes us feel happy or optimistic. “Uplit” – a new term which I found in The Guardian and which is derived from “uplifting literature” – seems to mean the same thing. It works best when there is some sadness, some realism, to act as a foil for the reasons to hope.
Looking at my recent favourite reads, I see that they all fall into this category. (And by the way, they are all by women). For example: Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things about Elsie; Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry; Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things; Elizabeth Strout’s Anything is Possible; Frances Garrood’s Dead Earnest.
A brilliant example of “uplit” is Sarah Winman’s Tin Man with its sunflower-yellow cover and its motif of light and sunflowers. Matt Haig has said “It breaks your heart and warms it all at once.” The kindness of strangers is a recurrent theme – unknown people returning a bike after an accident, giving a fiver to an unhappy boy – caring colleagues and neighbours – the list is too long to quote here. People forgiving, finding excuses for each other: my favourite is ” He’s just used to being a bastard, he’s one of those men who’ve discovered later he’s got a heart. Makes him a better dancer.” This novel shows friendships across generations, between men who have been lovers, between a woman and her husband’s beloved friend, across cultures. And it tells us that people can manage, “can handle things.”
It seems that “uplit” is becoming a popular sub-genre.
Do you share my enthusiasm? What would you add to my selection? And are there classics that fit the bill – War and Peace partly does, I think, and what about Jane Austen?