1. The term literary fiction was popularized by the New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani, and it has become standard usage for distinguishing fiction of deep and earnest intent from bestsellers and “genre fiction.”
The distinction is bunk…
2. Literary fiction — or what the British novelist Linda Grant has taken to calling LitFic — ought to be a haughty way of saying “good fiction.” But that’s not how the term is used. What, then, is it? Easy. Literary fiction (like 98.5% of poetry these days) is written by and for the entrenched bureaucracy of the creative writing faculty in the universities. There is good fiction, there is bad fiction, and there is fiction written in creative writing workshops.
Perhaps I should quit thinking about my book as potentially literary fiction, as though the label is something to aspire to. It isn’t.