Fiction Genres

Is anybody else confused about book genres? I first noticed this when I published my first book. I had to categorize it into a genre. I went through the list and it didn’t really fit into any of them. There’s some mystery to it but I wouldn’t label it “Mystery and detective.” There was a little suspense mixed in but it definitely isn’t a “Thriller.” It tells the story of a portion of somebody’s life but I wouldn’t call it a “Biography.” 

I saw the category “Literary Fiction” and wondered what it meant. When I’m looking for books to read, I always start in this category. To me, it is a catch-all for all the stuff that doesn’t fit cleanly into any of those other specific genres, which should encompass a good majority of fiction novels. But then curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know what it really meant. (I’m sure all of the Literature majors are screaming, ‘Duh, didn’t you learn this in school?’ But I didn’t.)

This is one definition I found. “A fictitious story that is considered to have literary merit by critics. In order for a book to have literary merit, it must incorporate universal themes and symbolism that reveals a human truth.” So I looked up Literary Merit. “The quality shared by all works of fiction that are considered to have aesthetic value.” As I learned in Architecture School, aesthetic value is entirely subjective and impossible to quantify.

I don’t know what this all means but I will continue to read and write “Literary Fiction” because it makes me feel smarter.

Glenn Seerup