Tag Archives: michael chabon

Just What Is Literary Fiction?

What’s the definition of literary fiction?  What’s the difference between literary and commercial fiction?  Is one better than the other?  Enquiring minds want to know! One writing instructor I had defined literary fiction as anything in the fiction part of the bookstore that wasn’t in genre categories.  Another basically agreed, calling literary fiction “mainstream” and anything else “genre.”  As in, literary is good, genre is bad.  Hmm… First, there’s a problem with calling anything “mainstream.”  Literary folk often call their writing mainstream and lump everything else into genre.  Other writers consider literary a genre of itself, and anything that doesn’t fit in a category is mainstream.  So we’ll say “commercial” and “literary” and leave “mainstream” out of it completely. Second, the either/or definition doesn’t work for me.  I have books I love that don’t fall in a genre category, but I don’t consider them literary fiction, either.  Rosamund Pilcher’s books … Continue reading

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