Dactyl Review

For readers. As literary fiction disappears from the pages of major book reviews, it becomes harder to find good books to read. With tags forstyle and influence and easy access to excerpts, Dactyl Review is unlike any other fiction review site, helping readers find the particular kinds of “literary fiction” they prefer. Because we’re not a commercial site, we don’t favor the newest books or books by best-selling authors.  We publish reviews of only the best literary fiction, older and new, as judged by other literary fiction writers.

For writers. We encourage literary fiction authors to support the kind of work they admire by reviewing their favorite works on this site. (Click here to submit a review.) This will help authors build a readership for their own work. Reviewers can also offer their own books for review; for more information click here. Reviewers with the highest percentage of positive feedback will be noted in the top ten reviewers section. All books reviewed on this site may be submitted for consideration for the Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award ($1000). Please see instructions here.

Literary fiction writers can support Dactyl Review and the literary community by contributing reviews. Literary fiction needs YOU.  Literary fiction readers can support Dactyl Review and the literary community by buying books that are reviewed on this site. If you click a link on this site 4-6% of your purchase price will go to support Dactyl Review or (if the reviewer has provided the link) to support the writer who reviewed the book. Dactyl Foundation also accepts direct donations supporting Dactyl Review.

The Dactyl Review, a web 2.0  website, and the Dactyl Foundation Literary Award for undersung fiction are supported by donations from generous people like you.  Your donation, of any amount, is much appreciated and is fully  tax-deductible. Donations of $500 or more will be acknowledged on the website under “Sponsors.”

Why is this a Good Cause to Support?

Social Good. Reading fiction helps build the pre-frontal cortex area, the seat of empathy, as no other kind of activity can. What better reason do you need? Empathy is the ability to imagine other people’s point of views, allowing you to provisionally hold a view not your own, in order to understand it before accepting, rejecting or adapting to it. “Literary” fiction tends to offer new or fresh perspectives; whereas, “general” fiction tends to confirm popular views and tends to, like movies, “show” rather than “tell,” which does not help as much in developing a sense of perspective . Storytelling is an ancient and essential part of the development of human culture.

Literary Fiction is Inherently Non-Commercial and Needs Charitable Support. Only a small percentage of Americans read book-length works these days, and only a very small percentage of these people read literary fiction.  Although there are rare and much-publicized exceptions, most literary fiction novels earn their authors less than $5000 and most of this earned income is reinvested into marketing.

Why this Website Will Help Literary Fiction as No Other Can. For a number of years, publishing has been dominated by commercial fiction. Literary fiction novels and short story collections by small presses or independent authors have little chance of being noticed by reviewers or placed on bookstore shelves.  Even the literary fiction written by relatively well-known writers published by big houses has been pushed to the side by pseudo-literary fiction  — written and reviewed by those who don’t  know the difference between thought and sentimentality, poetry and the use of adjectives — such that the meaning of “literary” is lost. There are four main unmet needs in the literary fiction community that, we if addressed, will improve the situation tremendously.

1. Search Filter Help.
While there are a number of online social media groups where literary fiction writers and readers might form communities, currently none of these websites offers sophisticated filtering options that would allow writers and/readers to connect with those who do the kind of writing that particularly interests them. Readers looking for literary fiction that suits their interests have to sift through too many books that are not appealing.  Our research has shown that “literary fiction” is too broad to be very helpful to those looking to locate a book that meets the criteria of his or her own idiosyncratic definition of “literary.”  Today, the Internet offers sophisticated tools for tagging and categorizing works and these tools have not been sufficiently utilized by literary websites.  Small press websites seldom categorize books by style or influence but by subject and author name. Our research has shown that literary fiction readers are not interested in particular subjects per se, but in certain types of writing.  And finally, most small press websites do not offer easy access to samples of the writing itself,  and likewise book reviews  tend not to offer samples of the writing. Writing samples are very helpful to readers looking for a particular style.
2. Niche Building Help.
There is currently no online review site dedicated solely to literary fiction that is accessible to a general search. There is currently no online review site self-managed by the literary fiction community.  We feel that the Internet presents a wonderful opportunity for niche-building that has not been sufficiently utilized. We feel that it is important that literary fiction writers are judged by their peers and not by those who actually prefer other genres.
3. Timely Recognition.
Most review sites are dedicated to “just released” titles. With the way the publishing system is currently organized books aren’t given much time in front of judges and audiences. Those that don’t make it immediately are tossed in the remaindered bin. A deep pity, as literary fiction is slow-growing and takes time to find its audience. No one in the literary fiction community denies this, and yet there are no awards for the best five-year-old novel; no reviewers interested in what came out last year.
4. Professional, objective reviews.
In an age of reader-reviews and commercially motivated reviews, too often those who are both  uninterested in literary fiction and unqualified to judge it are given the task of reviewing it. If not simply overlooked, literary fiction will likely be criticized for its literary qualities: not observing conventional pacing or using too many difficult words. Moreover, too many reviewers merely give opinions without supplying examples from the writing to support their views.

Addressing these needs.
Dactyl Review is managed by the literary fiction community. Literary fiction writers are best judged by their peers. Fellow writers  are not motivated by commercial interests; they only want to help promote the kind of literary writing they like.  Since DR requires its reviewers to supply generous quotes to support their readings, the reviews on this site are more easily judged as accurate or not.

DR is also be fairly unique in accepting reviews of books by any living literary fiction writer and multiple reviews of the same book.  It is our hope that this review website will bring to our attention undersung works of literary fiction, those books who have not been properly recognized yet by the existing award / contest / publishing system.  Every book reviewed on the website is eligible to be entered in Dactyl Foundation’s Literary Fiction contest, with an award of $1000.  This contest seeks to award any book by a living author worthy of recognition, without regard to its form of publication (which can be ebook, small press, traditional press, or even self-published) or publication date. Our research shows that there is no other award system that successfully utilizes this type of “crowd sourcing” approach to find appropriate books to award.

Any amount, even $1, is very much appreciated. Donate.