Armchair BEA – Day 3 – Literary Fiction

May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA – Day 3 – Literary Fiction

Hmm… literary fiction – how do you even define that?

What’s literary fiction for me could be utter crap to you and vice versa. Heck, I bet half of us (myself included) can’t even define literary fiction – which is why I Goggled it to find a good definition so I could at least write a post without looking like a complete idiot (part idiot is fine, I do it on a daily base).

I’ve visited several sites, all by established authors, publishers and editors (and Wikipedia) and no-one seems to agree on what literary fiction actually is. However, the one common theme to all is that literary fiction is character driven rather than plot driven and is “elegantly written, lyrical, and … layered” – something so abstract and general that you’d be hard pressed to find two people who agree on what that means.

So here is the problem, if someone asked me to read a character driven, lyrical book I’d probably pass on it. That being said, I read these types of books before and some I actually loved.

So the questions still remain: what is my favorite literary fiction book I read this year and which ones would I recommend?

Well, here they are (not in order) – I just hope they fit the genre:


How to Get Filthy Rich in Ris­ing Asia by Mohsin Hamid is a fic­tional book in guise of a self-help book (but with a story).


The Krautzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy is a novella writ­ten in 1889. At times this novella seemed like a rant that goes on page after page, but taken as a whole I can cer­tainly see the genius behind it.


Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende is a fic­tional novel and a com­ing of age story. Ms. Allende is an award win­ning, inter­na­tion­ally famous, Chilean writer.


And the Moun­tains Echoed by Khaled Hos­seini is the long awaited novel by this best­selling author. Mr. Hoseini’s pre­vi­ous nov­els, The Kite Run­ner and A Thou­sand Splen­did Suns, sold more than 38 mil­lion books.


My Ánto­nia by Willa Cather was writ­ten in 1918 and is con­sid­ered the last in the “Prairie Tril­ogy” fol­low­ing O Pio­neers! (review) And The Song of the Lark. This book is con­sid­ered one of the great­est nov­els writ­ten by an American.

Zohar – Man of la Book

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11 Comments

  • Sarah Reads Too Much May 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    You’ve nailed it – the enigma that is “literary fiction”. It has been quite interesting to see all the different definitions, or even the same definition with vastly different interpretations of the genre.

  • Dana May 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    It seems that many people had to look up the definition of literary fiction today. I think that it is so subjective but I agree with your choices. I’ve got Maya’s Notebook on my TBR list.

  • Alyssa Susanna May 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I’ve never heard of any of those books, but I know Isabel Allende is amazing! I have yet to read any of her books, but I would say that she is a a writer of literature! 😀

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  • Tanya May 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I haven’t read Hamid’s new book yet, but I’m looking so forward to it. What a great choice.
    t

  • Suey May 30, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Gah! I totally forgot about KH’s books when I made my list! I’m dying to read that new one.

  • Grace May 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I’m very curious about Maya’s Notebook, as I’m a huge fan of Isabel Allende’s writing.

  • katy May 30, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Great post!! Defining literary fiction is so difficult but it’s been so interesting looking at posts about it and different interpretations! So many interesting books! I bookmarked this post so I can look at them later! Thanks for sharing!

    my ABEA post

  • Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books May 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    I’ve only read one Willa Cather book so far (I can’t even remember which one right now), but I definitely plan on reading more. Same goes for Allende! And Hosseini. And haha you’re so right – literary fiction is a pretty amorphous term – but that makes defining it a more personal choice, which is kind of awesome.

  • Meg @ A Bookish Affair May 31, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I recently got to see Isabel Allende speak! She was amazing!

  • Laurie C June 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I’ve got How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia checked out from the library, but I keep visiting blogs instead of reading books!

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