The importance of “literary fiction”

Recently an article turned up (sorry, I can’t cite it) that claims reading “literary fiction” will improve your “emotional intelligence”. I’m OK with “emotional intelligence”, but what is “literary fiction”?? For starters, it’s the recognized fine literature, like Shakespeare and Jane Austen – plays and books that deal with the complexity of human emotions – texts that get better on a second or fifth reading.

Can “literary fiction” be found in recent novels? I vote “yes”. Trying to think of an example, I came up Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. It’s a tale of journeys and transformation. By the end, I felt like I had traveled very far. More recently, I read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Mesmerizing! She creates a microcosm and populates it with people so real, so detailed, you feel you know them like best friends.

Please let me know of books YOU would put into this category!


2 thoughts on “The importance of “literary fiction”

  1. I don’t think I read a lot that qualifies, at least not recent stuff. Cold Mountain is a good example.

    An author that my roommate likes is Andrea Barrett. He thinks that she writes well enough that she would be much more widely recognized if not for the fact that her novels and short stories are mostly about science and scientists.

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