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What is Literary Fiction?

Literary fiction is regarded has having literary merit. Literary fiction has a concern with social commentary and political criticism and it also has a reflection on the human condition. Literary fiction has a focus on “introspective, in-depth character studies” of “interesting, complex and developed” characters whose “inner stories” drive the plot and they have detailed motivations to create an emotional response from the reader.

They are often a character-based work, sometimes at the expense of any substantial plot. They are set at a slower pace than popular fiction, “literary fiction, by its nature, allows itself to dawdle, to linger on stray beauties even at the risk of losing its way”. Literary fiction is elegantly written, lyrical and layered as it has a concern with the style and complexity of writing.

Examples of literary fiction include 1984 by George Orwell, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.