Dag is Australian slang. It refers to somebody who is a bit odd or unusual; someone whose appearance or behaviour don’t fit in with what is considered to be conventional or “cool”. Originally it was not a particularly pleasant way to describe someone – it actually derives from the wool industry and means the little pieces of crap that get stuck to the wool on a sheep’s backside.
But as with many other terms commonly used down under, what began as an insult soon evolved into something more complicated. People who didn’t think it was such a bad thing to be a bit odd or unconventional began to see it as a badge of pride rather than something to be ashamed of. These days when the word is used, it’s often in an affectionate way to describe someone who both doesn’t feel the need to conform and is also quite a bit of fun to be around as a result. And every second celebrity, actor, model, etc always seems to make a big deal of claiming that away from the camera they’re really a total dag.
So, in summary, a dag is a person who doesn’t easily fit into the boxes society creates to categorise people.
But how does this relate to writing and books?
Nobody (at least not in the publishing industry) has ever been able to figure out where my stories fit. Are they for kids or are they for adults? Are they science-fiction or fantasy or something different again? I once had a story ping-pong so many times between the different departments of a major publisher that it got completely lost and when I eventually rang them up, nobody had the faintest idea where it was. Another time, a publisher told me that my book dealt with adult ideas but couldn’t be for adults because it had a lot of funny names.
So that’s when I began to realise that my stories are dags. They’re unconventional and odd, and they don’t fit into the various boxes that the publishing industry has decreed books must fit into. And also, like a true dag, I reckon they’re lots of fun. Therefore, what better name could I come up with for a new genre to describe my stories than dag-Lit?
So go ahead and try a bit of dag-Lit. If you’re eight or if you’re eighty, as long as you’re the kind of person who likes to look at the world in your own particular way, and who doesn’t like to be pushed down into a little box, then I reckon it’s for you.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as