Fiction has two types, ”Genre Fiction” and ”Literary Fiction”. While Genre Fiction is easily recognizable with its subcategories such as mystery/thriller, horror, crime, science-fiction, romance, fantasy, etc., but Literary Fiction is difficult to describe as there is no proper and rigid definition of Literary Fiction.
Related: A Guide on Popular Book Genres
But here is one of the best and simplest definition of literary fiction by HuffPost which says;
Literary Fiction is anything which doesn’t fit into any genre.Literary Fiction vs Genre Fiction, Huffpost
So when you are reading something which cannot be confined under a genre, you are probably reading literary fiction.
Literary fiction is generally regarded as more meaning full and superior to genre fiction.
It has also been termed as a ”serious” fiction exploring more complex subjects and themes compared to genre fiction which shows a clear story presenting a specific genre.
Understanding Literary fiction–
- Rather bound under a specific genre, this work of fiction is considered as a literary work with artistic value and of literary merit.
- A work of literary fiction often includes social commentary (showing issues in society), political criticism (criticism concerning politics, policies, types of government), or reflection on humanity (the human conditions, their emotions, conflict, mortality, aspirations, etc.)
- In literary fiction, the story plot is not the central concern but the character.
- The story narrative of literary fiction novels is character-driven and introspective in nature, putting out the author’s own thoughts and feelings in writing.
Literary Fiction Characteristics-
- Explores the complexity of language, symbolism, metaphor, theme, allegory etc.
- Presents a character-driven story.
- Often talks on social and contemporary issues.
- Explores political themes.
- Presents the human condition, their emotions and conflict.
- Showcases a great prose writing with rich and finely crafted word & phrases, often containing difficult vocabulary.
- Doesn’t follows any rule or stick to a fixed formula.
- Pushes the boundaries of fiction writing and presenting more deeper themes.
Examples of Literary Fiction Novels-
Below are examples of popular literary fiction novels written by renowned writers. Take a look at the list to understand literary fiction better.
#1. To the Light House
by Virginia Woolf
#2. Nineteen Eighty Four
by George Orwell
#3. Olive, Again
by Elizabeth Strout
#2. The Dutch House
by Ann Patchett
#4. The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
#5. The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
#6. Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
#7. The side of Paradise
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
#8. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
by Italo Calvino
#9. A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry
#10. The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
#11. The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
#12. The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead
#13. Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mendel
#14. Animal Farm
by George Orwell
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
#16. Every Thing I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng
#17. Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
#18. The Alchemist
by Paulo Cohelio
by Toni Morrison
#20. All the Lights We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr