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In April issue... Do You Know What Literary Fiction Is?


Do You Know What Literary Fiction Is?

By A P von K’Ory (Akinyi Princess of K’Orinda-Yimbo)

I often get asked whether my fiction writing is literary. Between the two categories, Genre and Literary, most people think literary can only be nonfiction. .... (continued below)


I often get asked whether my fiction writing is literary. Between the two categories, Genre and Literary, most people think literary can only be nonfiction. These people think in categories of good fiction and bad fiction – something totally dependent on the reader’s opinion. I love reading leCarré and Nesbo but frown on Patterson and Meyer. All four authors write genre. By the same token, literary fiction is also very much an “in the eye of the beholder” situation. It helps to remember that there is a pretty blurred line between the two.

Genre Fiction (GF).

Basically, it’s the characteristics that differ. Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, appeals to a mass readership that’s often termed mainstream. This particularly applies to readers who are fans of a specific niche and gravitate towards it, e.g. Sci-fi, fantasy, romance, mystery, action, history or young adult. Genre fans look for their favourite storytelling. The books have set rules, e.g. young adults deal with coming of age (protagonists between 12 to 18), romance must have a love story preferably with Happy End, sci-fi dwell on advanced technology. So the writer needs to know their readers’ expectations and deliver by following the predictable route: exposition, conflict, rising action to climax, declining action to final satisfactory resolution. GF is plot-driven adventurous entertainment, whether a whodunit or romance. The plot is paramount. The rules have to be adhered to. Like a James Bond film – you can have the kissing and bedroom bits, but you can’t get James into that limousine to the cathedral and have him reciting the wedding ceremony vows and finally saying I do to the dearly beloved! On the other hand, if the GF is romance then the wedding ceremony or something similar is a must..

And genre fiction sells a lot easier, that’s why it’s also called popular fiction. .

But if the writer ignores those expectations they’re venturing into literary fiction. .

Literary Fiction (LF).

Literary fiction has no set routine or rules. It’s a take-your-chances for both reader and writer and that can be as exciting as it is unnerving for the reader. In literary fiction some banal genre fiction theme can be adopted then flipped on its head. Think of challenging stuff like good over evil as in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (which would today be genre). In literary fiction the writer utilizes creative storytelling. The rules are in the hands of the author and the reader “wanders” without knowing where they’ll land. On the other hand the author can push norm boundaries as outrageously (or not) as they please. Think of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler which can be trying for the reader because they’re forced to “read a novel about reading a novel”. The literary fiction explores the human condition and is a lot more introspective in its objective – quite the opposite of escapism entertainment. LF seeks to make sense of the world around people as in Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, a haunting tale of India in the 1970s and 1980s. Writers of LF create memorable character studies the reader never forgets. Character is key, not plot that can be recycled with different names and premise. GF transports readers somewhere else, distract; LF endeavours to make sense of the human condition. Here’s a link where you can go and learn more about the Human Condition. .

https://study.com/academy/lesson/the-human-condition-in-literature.html .

One truth is that LF demands a reader’s attention; put differently, they’re hard reads not sail-away entertainment. They may involve subjects that feel uncomfortable, make you cringe, sound too daunting. If a reader wants to escape, they’ll be hard put to find it in LF. The allegories and symbols are utilized to convey the deeper meaning, that deeper takeaway for the reader that the story may not simply throw in your face. Remember, here the focus is on defining and exploring the character as the impetus that catapults the story forward. It gives the character action that changes the character. The endings are an amalgam of abrupt, sorrowful, perplexing, ambiguous or even open to the reader’s interpretation. The reader may be confronted with no resolution, and left desperate to figure out what meaning is hidden in all of it. On the other hand, LF are the candidates for winning awards, such as my multi-award winning Bound to Tradition (a story that deals with the vagaries of human groups and cultural opposites. My protagonists are poor vs rich, sophisticated vs naïve village girl, old vs young, manhood vs womanhood, Euro-culture vs Afro-culture). LF also often gets filmed, where they are just as challenging to the viewer as the books are to the reader. These are the works where critics (film and book) give rave reviews but when we read/watch the film, we’re left wishing we’d watched that reality show instead. .

Creativity, like beauty, is always in the eye of the beholder.

Summing Up GF.

Genre fiction has been described as “popcorn for the soul”. The earth may not move, but the stories are inventive, spellbinding, and lovely to get lost in. Outer space does titillate a lot more than the sordid alleys of an African, American, Asian or European megapolis. .

Summing Up LT Nothing wrong with fiction being serious and substantive, right? Caviar doesn’t taste like much, quite honestly, but it’s still priced like diamonds. Besides, the author has license to ignore the rules and simply let rip, often ending up with a one-of-a-kind work that impacts our lives. .

Handbook of Research on Examining Global Peacemaking in the Digital Age, Bruce L. Cook (ed.)


Violent behavior has become deeply integrated into modern society and it is an unavoidable aspect of human nature. Examining peacemaking strategies through a critical and academic perspective can assist in resolving violence in societies around the world.

The Handbook of Research on Examining Global Peacemaking in the Digital Age is a pivotal reference source for the latest research findings on the utilization of peacemaking in media, leadership, and religion. Featuring extensive coverage on relevant areas such as human rights, spirituality, and the Summer of Peace, this publication is an ideal resource for policymakers, universities and colleges, graduate-level students, and organizations seeking current research on the application of conflict resolution and international negotiation.


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Publishing New Writers,

April, 2021 (vol. 22, no. 4)


Dr. Bruce L. Cook
1407 Getzelman Drive
Elgin, IL 60123

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