(credit: © Tom Gauld)
Everyone defines literary fiction differently and I’m not going to get into the whole academic argument of what it is. When I think about lit fiction, I think about books in a bookstore that can’t be shelved in particular areas. Take for example, if you were come to across Colleen Hoover’s Slammed at your local Barnes & Noble store, it’s located in the romance section. If you look at Twilight, it’s shelved in the YA section or Harry Potter is in the children’s section. And yet, when you look for let’s say Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander it’s not in the romance section, it’s in the general fiction area. This is why several classic books such as To Kill a Mockingbird are shelved as lit fiction when I think of them as classic books and not general fiction.
I read an article last year and it was about lit fiction dying. I don’t necessarily think it is, but our expectations of what it is, is changing. We have books that don’t quite fit a specific genre. I’m thinking of Margot Berwin’s Scent of Darkness since she uses elements of magic realism in her book and yet she’s classified as lit fiction. That’s also the beauty of the genre, that it encompasses a wide range of fictional elements.
Some of my favorite literary fiction books include David Nicholls’ One Day. Oh did I cry buckets of tears over the ending! I’ve also enjoyed Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong, Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, and Carol Anshaw’s Carry the One. If we include classic books then Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front tops the list as well as Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.
As for 2013 lit fiction reads, I haven’t read many, but I highly recommend the Peggy Riley’s Amity & Sorrow (reviewed here) and Tanya J. Peterson’s Leave of Absence (reviewed here). Both will leave you looking at the world a little differently.
Lit fiction books I can’t wait to read: Menna van Praag’s The House at the End of Hope Street, Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, Heidi W. Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, and Ned Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident.
What books lit fiction books have you read and have enjoyed?