Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

April 13, 2024

L is for Literary Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter L

For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the genre/category and an example or two. I would love to know your thoughts on the genre/category and if you have any reading suggestions. Be sure to check out all of my A to Z posts.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

Some people may think that Literary Fiction just means literature, but literature encompasses both fiction and nonfiction. I like to think in organizational charts so if Fiction is at the top, it splits into literary fiction and commercial (or genre) fiction. That doesn't mean that literary fiction does include elements of genres - there is historical literary fiction, literary science fiction, etc. but they do not always fit neatly into a genre. Commercial/genre fiction is more about entertainment and literary fiction is usually more about the art.

Wikipedia describes literary fiction as "novels that are character-driven rather than plot-driven, examine the human condition, use language in an experimental or poetic fashion, or are simply considered serious art." I'm not sure I agree with the first point of distinction as I've read plenty of genre fiction that is character-driven. But I do agree that literary fiction is almost always character-driven. I believe the rest of the definition is accurate. I usually find literary fiction to be very beautifully written, even when I don't fully understand it. I have described books of literary fiction as poetic or lyrical. 

Some people say that books that have been deemed as classics are literary fiction. I can see that for books like East of Eden by John Steinbeck and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Many of the classics examine the human condition. 

There are a few prizes for literary fiction. The Nobel Prize in Literature is often awarded to authors of literary fiction. The award recognizes "outstanding literary work in an idealistic direction." Other awards for literary fiction include the Booker Prize (for works written in English) and the International Booker Prize (for works translated into English).

While we review a lot of genre fiction, we all review literary fiction from time to time. I've reviewed several really good books of literary fiction, but when I think of an example of literary fiction one novel always jumps to the forefront of my mind. It is a novel I reviewed way back in 2011 the first year of Girl Who Reads. If you are looking for a beautiful story with brilliant writing, then check out this book.

In the King's Arms by Sonia Taitz

book cover of literary fiction novel In the King's Arms by Sonia Taitz

Lily Taub is the brilliant, beautiful and headstrong American daughter of Holocaust survivors. Seeking relief from their traumatized world, Lily escapes to Oxford University, where she meets Julian Aiken — black sheep of an aristocratic English family. When Lily is invited to the family’s ancestral home over Christmas vacation, her deepening romance with young Julian is crossed by a shocking accident that affects them all. Julian must face the harsh disapproval of his anti-Semitic family, who consider Lily a destructive force, not only in Julian’s life, but to their own sense of order.

Buy In the King's Arms at Amazon

Read my review.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us. Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter today! Or Follow Girl Who Reads with Bloglovin. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I don't see out literary fiction, but i like it when i stumble on to it.

  3. This is the genre I write in mostly, and I agree with how you've defined it. I like the reality of literary fiction which doesn't rely on formulas. It can still be hit and miss though. I've read some absolute trip (imo) in this category. I tend to gravitate towards stories I can relate to. LF often fits the bill for me.

  4. I agree with you that a lot of genre fiction dives deep into characterization, but sometimes I still like the lyrical feel and honesty and literary fiction. I love you both, so as a reader I'm a Heinz 57. :-)