May 30, 2013 • Cee • Events


Today’s topic is about literary fiction aka “we-are-sailing-into-murky-territories-known-as-literary-fiction-please-help-me.”

What is literary fiction?

Everybody has their own views of what they consider “classic” or “genre.” And literary fiction is the same. Defining “literary fiction” is a bit tricky. It’s a fairly new term. I feel that it is…everything else, but emphasizes a lot on meaning instead of pure entertainment. “Literary fiction” are like works of art. The content is so rich and complex (and that is to say other genres are not). It’s generally considered works that are “critically acclaimed” or “serious.” It’s the section I naturally gravitate toward whenever I enter a bookstore (before I fell back into young adult novels). It’s what I read and analyzed as an English major in college. 

Literary fiction is love of mine. An old lover, you can say.

Contemporary literary fiction!

I feel kind of embarrassed to admit this – I don’t read a lot of contemporary literary fictions. I own a lot of it. It’s not that I don’t want to. I don’t have the attention span. I have a list of books and authors I am dying to read. Here are some authors that I want to read and believe that they fit into literary fiction.

All (or at least most) of these works are critically acclaimed books that I need to get my greedy hands on. 

Note: I have excluded YA novels because I don’t feel like it fits under literary fiction (with the exception of a few like On the Jellicoe Road).

1920s & Onwards! 

Do authors/books that were published in the 1920s (and onwards) count? They do! Literary fiction doesn’t always pertain to contemporary books! There are plenty of 60+ year old books that are fits the definition. Any book that has been critically acclaimed. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Virgina Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Zora Neale Hurston. I consider all these authors to fit into literary fiction (and not classic literature). And I’m not sure if you can tell, all the authors I picked are from the late 20th to early 21st century. Why? It’s my favorite time period for books! We have the introduction of Modernism and the Lost Generation! 


For the record, I hate referring to anything as “literary fiction” or “mainstream fiction.” I think it’s one of those terms that is unnecessary. It’s a bit difficult to define because the term is so broad, yet concise. I don’t know what it wants from me!

What are your thoughts on literary fiction? Are you as clueless as I am?

Check out my previous post in Armchair BEA:


6 Responses to “Armchair BEA | Day 3 – Literary Fiction”

  1. Fahima says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! Some of them sound really interesting :)
    Btw, love your blog design! :D

    Fahima @ I Read, Ergo I Write

  2. I agree, literary fiction sounds a little pompous, and at the same time, some books don’t really fit in any genre fiction, either. I have some favorites, and you have provided me with some to add to my TBR :)

    Here’s my Literary Fiction post.

  3. I don’t like the term literary fiction either. Actually I hate fitting books into genres full stop. So any cross over various sections but by fitting them in a narrow box , the the potential market is limited. Some interesting suggestions there, thanks for sharing :-)

  4. I really enjoyed Tell The Wolves I’m Home. Hope you get to it soon.

  5. ablightedone says:

    Awesome post! I am pretty clueless, too. I just read whatever I think sounds interesting and sometimes it’s literary and sometimes it’s genre. A lot of the books you mentioned sound interesting!

  6. Kristin says:

    You should totally read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. It is fascinating and fun!

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