So I really hope my genre fiction post yesterday didn't give anyone the idea that I don't like literary fiction, or that I don't recognise the brilliance that can be found between the covers of a literary fiction novel. he broad definition of literary fiction is a book that's serious in tone and holds literary merit. If you take that as fact it's pretty clear that the two genres are not mutually exclusive, there's a definite muddiness in the line between the two, it's just the critics who like to try and make it sharper from time to time.
2013 has not been much of a literary year for me. Aside from Room by Emma Donoghue my books have all been thoroughly genre fiction. With a PhD to work on I haven't really had the heart to explore dark and emotionally-wrought novels that will probably take me a month to finish. Or at least, the lighter more enjoyable books are just beckoning far louder on my bookshelves. But recommendations I do have, oh I have trucks full of them!
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiiguro was my favourite book of 2011, really powerful and interesting and hard to put down. A must read for sure. Anything by Margaret Atwood is a sure-fire winner, there's (almost) always a strong feminist or dystopian thread running through her books and they will take the wind out of you. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is like a historical fiction/literary fiction cross and if you like history (specifically English history in this case) then her sharp, accurate and illuminating prose will rock your socks off. The sequel Bring Up The Bodies came out last year and I still don't own it, which is a serious problem I hope to rectify soon. I read my first essay collection by David Sedaris this year, and for the most part I really enjoyed his brutally frank, self-deprecating story-telling although I don't know how many collections I could read without it feeling derivative. It's perhaps not strictly literary fiction, but Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader is a fantastic novella and Cormac McCarthy's distopian novel The Road is filled with some of the most beautiful prose I've ever come across.