Literary Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See“Literary fiction” is a term developed in the 1960s to differentiate introspective, character driven novels from commercial, story-driven novels.

  • Focuses on social issues and the human condition
  • Has a slow pace
  • Often has an ambiguous ending
  • Pushes boundaries
  • Shows a unique perspective
  • Is elegant, layered, or complex in style

Recommended Reading

All the Light We Cannot See / Anthony Doerr (2014)
A blind French girl and a German boy meet in occupied France during World War II.

Americanah / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)
A pair of star-crossed lovers emigrate to the west to escape a military-run Nigeria.

Beneath a Scarlet SkyHandmaid's Tale  / Mark Sullivan (2017)
An Italian teenager in WWII spies for the Allies after becoming the driver of one of Hitler’s top commanders.

Circe / Madeline Miller (2018)
Circe, the witch from Greek mythology, is exiled by Zeus and hones her craft alone on an island.

Commonwealth / Anne Patchett (2016)
An unexpected romantic encounter changes the lives of the families involved for decades.

Cutting for Stone / Abraham Verghese (2009)
Twin brothers in Ethiopia are torn apart when both fall in love with the same woman.

Everything I Never Told You / Celeste Ng (2014)
A Chinese-American family in 1970s Ohio struggles with the loss of their daughter.

Exit West / Mohsin Hamid (2017)
A couple fall in love amidst civil war in the Middle East, forcing them to flee their country.

A Gentleman in Moscow / Amor Towles (2016)
A Russian aristocrat is sentenced to house arrest across from the Kremlin in 1922.

The Handmaid’s TaleSing, Unburied, Sing / Margaret Atwood (1985)
In a dystopian future where births are declining, handmaids are women valued only for their viable ovaries.

A Man Called Ove / Fredrik Backman (2012)
A lively family moves next door to a curmudgeonly old man, turning his solitary world upside-down.

Pachinko / Min Jin Lee (2017)
In early 1900s Korea, a pregnant girl rejects her wealthy lover and marries a Japanese minister.

Sing, Unburied, Sing / Jesmyn Ward (2017)
A struggling family goes on a road trip to pick up their father, recently released from prison.

There, There / Tommy Orange (2018)
Twelve people travel to Oakland, CA to participate in The Big Oakland Powwow.