Tag: literary detective fiction

Contemporary Fiction Vs. Literary Fiction

Posted June 20, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 26 Comments

Genres are always tricky and there are often a lot of problems with assigning a genre.  Recently River City Reading (a fantastic blog if you are not following it) was asking about historical fiction which was interesting but I have been thinking about something different. I am curious to know how people choose if a book is contemporary fiction or literary fiction. Most people may agree that literary fiction covers a wide range of different genres but when it comes to contemporary fiction there is a very fine line between the two.

I know that when it comes to genres, everyone have a different opinions and we can spend time arguing about each one. So I thought, why not create a space where we can argue contemporary fiction verses literary fiction. For me, I think contemporary fiction focuses on the modern life and all the moral and relationship dilemmas that we face as humans. Literary fiction can cover the same topic but executed a little differently. When it comes to literary fiction it is all about the proses, beauty and how thought provoking a book can be.

Which does bring up an interesting problem; should literary fiction be considered a genre. If you think about it, literary fiction tends to blend into all other genres, to the extent that I’d rather call it a category not a genre. You can have literary fantasy, literary detective fiction and it will go on and on. So why do people insist on making literary fiction a genre? I tend to think most people refer to contemporary fiction as literary fiction however I think they are separate.

Genres are confusing and often are easily mixed up, it would be great if we can throw them away all together but they still have a use. I thought I would write this post to ask people what they think, how do people separate contemporary fiction and literary fiction. Do you even try to separate them, or do you have a technique to work it out? Furthermore, do you think genres are essential and what would a world be like if we just separate everything as fiction and non-fiction?