In 1999, Michigan State University Press launched Fourth Genre: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction, a journal that began with and has maintained a devotion to publishing notable, innovative work in nonfiction. The title reflects an intent to give nonfiction its due as a literary genre--to give writers of the 'fourth genre' a showcase for their work and to give readers a place to find the liveliest and most creative works in the form.
Given the genre's flexibility and expansiveness, journal editors Michael Steinberg and David Cooper have welcomed a variety of works-- ranging from personal essays and memoirs to literary journalism and personal criticism. The essays are lyrical, self-interrogative, meditative, and reflective, as well as expository, analytical, exploratory, or whimsical. In short, Fourth Genre encourages a writer- to-reader conversation, one that explores the markers and boundaries of literary/creative nonfiction.
Since its inaugural issue, contributors have earned many literary awards: 5 Notable Essays of the Year (Best American Essay); the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award; Notable Essay of the Year (Best American Travel Writing); and 4 Pushcart Prizes. Five Years of 4th Genre is a celebration of this significant literary journal. Culling a selection of some of the most creative of Fourth Genre's first five years--the Pushcart winners are here, as well as those essays that are unique, those that tell us something new, those that startle us, and those that touch our hearts --this volume presents a representative sampling.