Sunday, 27 January 2013

Literary V Genre Fiction: A postscript

Further to my post last week about Literary Fiction versus Genre Fiction I came across an excellent post over at Jennie Coughlin, in which she suggests the term "serious fiction" is useful and comments:

Literary often involves playing with language in ways that are artistically pleasing, but perhaps veer too far into experimental for most people. And genre has taken on a connotation that is the opposite of serious fiction. More and more there are books out there that don’t fall into either category. If more people adopt the “serious fiction” category, maybe we can start to build a new genre.

I'd urge you to read the full post - very interesting stuff.

Related post:


  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Jane! I read your earlier post, and I'm glad mine was helpful. Although credit for the idea really belong with Porter Anderson - I just riffed off his #legitlit idea. I'm coming to it from a different point of view, I think, than you are. My work just isn't genre. It's got mobsters, but isn't a crime/thriller/mystery. One of the main characters is gay (well, two, counting his husband), but it isn't LGBT. Etc., etc. But my stories always feel like they have too much plot and drive for "literary." There seem to be more and more books straddling that divide, and Porter's conception of #legitlit works better than anything I've seen at describing them.

    1. Hi Jennie - thanks for stopping by and hope you didn't mind me referring to your post. It is an interesting topic, and one I will probably come back to in the future. Maybe all the lines will blur even more as time goes on.

    2. Refer away. :) If you haven't checked out the comments, there are a bunch now. Passive Voice blog picked it up and the discussion's been interesting. I'm probably going to revisit it at some point as well. There's definitely more here to discuss.

  2. I must admit, I do have trouble understanding what 'Literary' actually means, and why it so important for genre authors to feel they have to be accepted by the academics(?) who proclaim such things. Literary, as far as I'm concerned, is just a subset genre of literature - as is science fiction, as is horror, as is every other category that man and womankind slot their stories into. The important thing is if the story is good and if people actually want to read it.
    Out of interest, are these stories considered literary works?
    The Trial – Franz Kafka
    The life of Pi
    One Flew over the Cuckoo's nest - Ken Kesey
    A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
    Thanks, a thought provoking subject

  3. Hi Gary - I suppose the labels are useful for readers when they want to find books that interest them, and I like your examples. I'm reading Life of Pi and would veer towards literary, but is that because of the Booker? Schools and Uni's assume Dickens is literary but he was also popular and populist in his day. Is Asimov literary Sci-fi? It's a subject I do find fascinating. You are right - what matters is the story and the way it connects with the reader.

  4. I think you've hit the nail on the head with your Dickens comment. If the plebs like it, it ain't literary.