Literary fiction is often linguistically difficult, or unusual, in the way that poetry is. It often contains unfamiliar words or supports political, ideological, religious positions that are not widely accepted. It subverts sentimentality. It makes people think.
Non-fans of literary fiction tend to complain that it sends them to the dictionary (or tries to). They claim literary fiction is guilty of affectation, a term which seems to have changed its meaning of late:
Main Entry: af·fec·ta·tion
1 :displaying extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books : demonstrating profound, recondite, or bookish learning
2 :speech or behavior relating to, or characteristic of poets or poetry Continue reading
The House of Meetings is a narrative delivered as a long letter from an unnamed narrator, an 86-year-old Russian man, to his step-daughter Venus, living in Chicago. He is in the midst of traveling back home after many years in the U.S. The point of his journey is to revisit a work camp in the Artic where he had been held prisoner and slave laborer in the 40s and 50s. Particularly, he wants to visit the “house of meetings,” where, late in the labor camp era, the Soviets had begun allowing some prisoners to meet briefly with their wives. The narrator’s brother, Lev, with whom he shared most of his prison years, had been able to meet with his wife Zoya there on one occasion. Something occurred during the meeting that changed Lev’s life for the worse, and Continue reading