Catalog Confusion? Soviet Daughter : A Graphic Revolution

soviet daughter

I had recently created a small section of Biographical Graphic Novels and Non-Fiction Graphic Novels at the library I work at. It’s a little section but I’m proud of creating a visible assertion that graphic novels aren’t 100% superheroes. That non-fiction and memoirs have been in the graphic medium and will continue to grow.

So imagine my confusion receiving Soviet Daughter : A Graphic Revolution by Julia Alekseyeva to have processed. I figured it was a memoir and would be placed under our Biographical Graphic Novels because Julia uses information provided by her great-grandmother, Lola from her days growing up in the USSR to witnessing the Fall of the Soviet Union and moving to the United States. At the same time, moments of Julia’s story is interwoven, reminiscently reminding me of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, where she revisits her relationship with her father prior to his death. However the library system placed it as a Fiction.

So I dug deeper and ran across more confusion. Amazon lists Soviet Daughter under Amazon Best Seller Ranks as “Educational and Non-Fiction” (#164) but “Historical and Biographical Fiction” (#96). The publisher, Microcosm Publishing, markets it as a “graphic novel memoir unites two generations of strong, independent women against a sweeping backdrop of the history of the USSR.” A memoir is a biography, written from personal sources. If this was fiction, the marketing would say so since it would put the book in a tricky situation. WorldCat lists it as “Biography, Fiction” with Similar Items listing subjects including “Nonfiction/Biography/Memoir”.

Food for thought when looking at books in the library. The collection says a lot if books are placed in Fiction or Non-Fiction. For now, Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution will be under Fiction. If there are any changes, we’ll see!

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A librarian in Hawaii who may be a bit obsessed with tea, cute stationary, graphic novels, and video games. The comments in this blog are my own personal opinions/reflections/reviews and do not reflect the opinions/views of the library I work for.

5 thoughts on “Catalog Confusion? Soviet Daughter : A Graphic Revolution”

  1. I don’t know how much stock I’d place in lists/genres for cataloging (I’m sure you don’t really either) but very intriguing nonetheless …

    Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series came to mind while reading this … It’s supposed to be based off of her life growing up out west during the pioneer era, but I’ve always seen it shelved as “fiction” … Maybe this is a similar case where the author used the life of a real person as a basis for their own fictional works … ? But where is the line between non-fiction/biography vs. fiction in regards to memoirs? If a memoir is embellished too much, is it then categorized as fiction? How much is too much? =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mention this since Amazon is used for a lot of purchasing and reviews, there has to be some consideration taken when looking at x genre, particularly when you put yourself in the patron’s shoes in an attempt to find books based on x genre. Good food for thought though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kelly,
    I’m with Microcosm, who published Soviet Daughter. Thanks for this awesome post about the book. It’s good to find I’m not the only one to majorly nerd out about metadata.

    The book is 100% nonfiction, based on the author’s own life and her great-grandmother’s memoir. We’ve never called it fiction, and gave it only nonfiction BISACs. It’s also absolutely not for children, and we wouldn’t promote it as such, though I’m sure smart teens have loved it. But it still gets flagged as children’s fiction… because so much of the industry still sees “comics” or “graphic novel” and makes both those assumptions. It’s frustrating… but I guess the important thing is that the books get read. So thanks for putting it on the shelf (and writing about it too).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Elly for reaching out and commenting. I echo your sentiments that “comics”/”graphic novels” are still seen as literature for children when we have decades of history to prove that has not been the case. For “Soviet Daughter”, since you’ve clarified 100% that it is NF (right on target!), I will work on changing the label at the library I work in to our Graphic Novel Biography section until I can get a clear call number set for the book.
      I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will continue to look towards Microcosm for additional publications for the library!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kelly, thank you for getting us on the nonfiction shelf! I’m glad you loved the book and I hope you love what we have coming out since then. We definitely try to keep it never boring.

    Liked by 1 person

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