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    Literary Fiction

    The term literary fiction is relatively new, in common usage since the 1970s. It describes serious fiction, as opposed to genre (such as fantasy or mystery), and popular fiction. The novels use narrative creatively to explore significant philosophical, psychological, and linguistic themes. While plot is the focus of popular or mainstream novels, characters and style drive literary fiction. Readers of literary fiction usually do not find neat, tidy happy endings; these books are full of ambiguity.
    Check out these literary fiction titles and authors:
     Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

    Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a magical, epic tale of a refugee from the Nazis who joins his American cousin in 1939 New York City. The two create comic books based on their own fears and dreams.

     The Lady and the Unicorn Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, continues to weave historical facts, art, and fiction with The Lady and the Unicorn. The creation of a fifteenth century tapestry provides the backdrop for this beautiful, intriguing story set during France in the late fifteenth century.

     Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close The unique Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, follows nine-year-old Oskar’s quest to learn more about a key found in his deceased father’s closet after 9/11. It’s the second novel by the author of Everything is Illuminated.

     A Gesture Life by Chang-Rae Lee A Gesture Life, by Chang-Rae Lee, is the moving story of Hata, a Korean man raised in Japan and living in America. His quiet, correct life masks the pain of his experiences in World War II.
     American Pastoral by Philip Roth Philip Roth’s American Pastoral relates the story of Swede, who lives a charmed life until his beloved daughter gets involved in the 1960s anti-war movement and goes underground after accidentally killing someone. It’s a vivid, powerful portrayal of modern America.

     The God of Small Things
    Set in India, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things depicts the tragedies that haunt the doomed family of fraternal twins Rahel and Estha. The twins learn that everything can change in a moment in this outstanding debut novel.

     White Teeth
    Zadie Smith wrote White Teeth, a multigenerational remarkable tale set in post-war London. Two intertwined families, outsiders in Britain, cope with the struggles of immigrants in an examination of fate and choice.

     
    Authors of popular fiction, genre fiction, or nonfiction occasionally venture into literary fiction. Here are just a few:
     
     Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
    Margaret Atwood, who wrote the science fiction classic, Oryx and Crake, also penned Alias Grace, the compelling, fascinating psychological portrait of an accused murderer and former maid.

     Red Tent by Anita Diamant
    Anita Diamant has written numerous nonfiction books on Jewish rituals, but also wrote The Red Tent, giving voice to the Old Testament character, Dinah, in a sweeping literary fiction tale.

     The Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman’s fantasy novels are spellbinding. In The Blue Diary, Hoffman spins a lyrical tale of a “perfect” husband and father with a dark past and his small town’s reaction to his previous life.

     Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    Barbara Kingsolver wrote the popular fiction title The Bean Trees and moved into the literary fiction realm with The Poisonwood Bible, vividly chronicling the unraveling of a missionary family in Africa.

     Fortune's Rocks
    Anita Shreve also turned to literary fiction after her popular fiction title, The Pilot’s Wife, with Fortune’s Rocks. It follows a fifteen-year-old during the summer of her sexual awakening, her love affair with a married man, and the scandal’s aftermath.
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