There seems to be a great deal of ambiguity or confusion regarding the definition of ‘literary fiction’. Particularly, it is never really made clear to me whether literary fiction can also be speculative fiction at the same time.
On one hand, ‘literary fiction’ is often defined or talked about in such a way that suggests it has to be based on real life (i.e.: ‘serious’ fiction). But, at the same time, I have come across some definitions that say literary fiction can be ‘cross genre’ (unlike other types of fiction).
So which is it?
The main problem I have with a reality-based definition of literary fiction is that it seems obvious to me that speculative fiction, such as fantasy, romance, sci-fi (especially futuristic) and horror (especially psychological horror), can easily achieve and fulfill the sorts of things that ‘literary fiction’ is usually defined as fulfilling; such as a deep examination of the human condition, presenting a new philosophical outlook, beautiful prose, and so on. Even if most books in these genres don’t do this, there are many that do. Would they therefore be classified as ‘literary fiction’? Or are they excluded because they are speculative and not reality-based?