Thursday, 30 May 2013

Armchair BEA - Literary Fiction

Design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots
For day 4 of the Armchair BEA the topic is Literary Fiction. Wikipedia provides the definition of Literary Fiction HERE, but the rule of thumb is "critically acclaimed and serious" In fact reading the wikipedia definition and the subsequent details, not even the "writing professional" can agree on what exactly Literary Fiction is.

My personal view is the book is a "cut above the rest" apparently and perhaps has been seen by professionals and judges suitable for winning awards, rather than novelists that "churn books out in order to eat.

There, that is a harsh and brutal set of generalisations. - I am feeling delicate today so if you disagree please be nice!

I belong to a book group and each month we meet and discuss books and whatever else falls out of the general discussion. We have read in recent months books that have either been nominated for an award or won a prestigious award and we discussed what makes the book get the award. We agreed that it the nominated book is seen to have a WOW factor.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesAbout 18 months ago I read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, prompted by seeing the award being presented to the author on Sky News, who were covering the event.

The next time I was in the local library I checked the shelf and there it was, a slim book. I checked the book out and read it in an afternoon. A week later I re read the book and felt that I didn't get the book. I must be an idiot, a philistine. It was a well acclaimed book, won a prize & I didn't get it. 

I checked LibraryThing, where there are over 3,000 copies of the book registered in different libraries and over 200 reviews. Overall the book has a 4 star rating. I gave the book 3 stars, I liked the story, it was a clear and easy read with a twist in the tale, but did it have that WOW factor for me? No it did not and I think the book is over rated. 

Our book group read for April was Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman, which also was nominated for the Booker Prize and it was a first novel. I gave the book 3 stars on Librarything and you can read my review HERE. I think this book does have the WOW factor, it is a fictionalised account of something that happened in London and I had mixed feelings about this.

So can I recommend any Literary Fiction? - Actually no, I believe that readers should read what appeals to them from other reviews and book group choices rather than endlessly selecting those nominated for awards.  Reading is about learning, developing, thinking and enjoyment.

So on that note I will recommend a book that I have recently read, on the back of a blog post. The book is a  memoir & travel book and is Without Reservation by Alice Steinbach. You can read my review HERE and you can see a further post that I wrote HERE


  1. That's too bad, that the literary fiction you have read didn't appeal to you as much as you had hoped it would.

    I can recommend a couple of authors... you can find them in my Literary Fiction post.

  2. Hooray!!!! I have met someone who has read Steinbach. I was beginning to feel desperately lonely. I mentioned it in my intro post for BEA Armchair

    You just made my day Julie

  3. I agree with what you said in the second paragraph - literary fiction should have awards and a classic, timeless nature to them.

    Check out my post!


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