Sunday, November 7, 2010

Literary Blog Hop ~ What is Literary Fiction?



What is Literary Fiction?

The Blue Bookcase ~  is having a literary blog hop, asking bloggers to ~ Please highlight one of your favorite books and why you would consider it "literary."

If you read literary fiction then perhaps you would like to join? 

If you aren’t sure what literary fiction is then perhaps lurking will help, or just scroll down to see our thoughts and links as well as recommendations.  If you read primarily genre fiction - non-literary YA, fantasy, romance, paranormal romance, or chick lit –then perhaps you haven’t tried literary fiction; and there is also a blog hop there for you too. Then there are the netherworlds in between genre fiction and literary fiction which can also be included but are somewhat more vague; many readers tend to dwell in these worlds, ourselves included.

Link on the badge above to to join and add your thoughts about ~  What is literary? or to join the genre fiction blog hop.

What is Literary Fiction?  ~  Recently as I have been researching different genres within speculative fiction, I have struggled to define literary fiction. Some of you may have seen the project on The Basics Challenge blog?

Having not read fiction for years I have dived back in and in defining genres it can all be vague with definitions not always black and white. Did you know that there are books which even define themselves as literary speculative fiction? Or speculative fiction with literary elements?

Lets take a look at the Wikipedia definition:

Literary fiction is a term that has come into common usage since around 1960, principally to distinguish serious fiction (that is, work with claims to literary merit) from the many types of genre fiction and popular fiction (i.e., paraliterature). In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character the plot may or may not be important. Mainstream commercial fiction focuses more on narrative and plot.

What distinguishes literary fiction from other genres is somewhat subjective, and as in other artistic media, genres may overlap.

Literary fiction includes works written as short story, novella, novel and novel sequence. In the world of comic writing, graphic novels are sometimes considered literary fiction, as represented by Watchmen. Michiko Kakutani, writing in The New York Times, has described literary fiction as having a distinctive "vision and language."

To understand what literary fiction is, it's probably easier to look at what it isn't. Literary fiction is not about chick lit, mystery, science fiction or horror although they are marvelous literature in themselves and literary fiction can incorporate certain aspects of them.

Literary is not precisely defined and it might be difficult to state whether Science fiction classics like, The Time Machine or The War of the Worlds are or are not literary fiction.

I have underlined the key bits to define ~ What is literary?

John and myself have a tendency to prefer those works which are either literary fiction or include literary elements. Does that sound rather snobby? I hope not as these books are not necessarily difficult to read and are often quite accessible.

So in answer to the question - Please highlight one of your favorite books and why you would consider it "literary."

I would have to say that Rainy Lake would be my choice. It highlights issues around race and class during the 1960’s. So it’s a period piece illuminating some very key social concerns, psychological elements with a lyrical yet simple and accessible writing style. And just look at the cover!

Just in case you would like more here are a few other “literary” suggestions that we have read, reviewed, and loved that you may also enjoy:


fullpage.doKaplan_By Fire By Water

For more books which may be defined as literary fiction take a look at the series by Nancy Pearl called Book Lust. The title links to a review of her first three books which are packed full and organized into groups of specific interest so you are bound to find something there.

I think there are more questions than answers here in this post, all in an attempt to help define literary fiction. Your thoughts and disagreement are always welcome. Let us know what are your favorite literary books or ~ How you define literary?

Happy pondering, cogitating and of course reading!


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I tend to like posts with more questions than answers. I'm a new follower!

Here's mine:

I'd love to have you stop by now and then.

MedSchoolWife said...

Great post, and thanks for taking place in the hop with us! We're glad to have you.

I have never read Rainy Lake, but it certainly sounds interesting!

Unknown said...

Hi Reader Buzz -
Thanks so much and I will reciprocate, and will be right over to check out your post and blog too!

When I was in college - I'm a liberal studies grad, it was a key element for the program that the professors encouraged us to end up with more questions than answers. So I tend to agree, especially when one is not an expert, such as myself.

ConnieGirl -
Interesting blog hop - thanks for hosting!

Rainy Lake was wonderful, and one of my favorite recent literary books.

If only I had a posted a review of Lolita which I have just finished reading. That book is/was brilliant! It is coming soon.

NancyO said...

As it turns out, I have The Unit on my TBR pile, so I'm happy to see someone recommend it. I'll definitely add your blog to those I watch.

Unknown said...

Nancy -
I love translations and dystopians so this was a bit hit for me.

Thanks and yours is on my list too.

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