You are here

Genre: <i>Contemporary literature</i>

The genre classification of Contemporary literature represents certain texts written during and after 1960. There are also other requirements for a text to classify as Contemporary literature; the text should be of a class distinguishable by a high standard of writing; be it beauty, composition, style, significance.

What is Contemporary literature?

The term literature signifies an array of meanings, the widest and most literal being derived from the Latin "littera", now meaning "acquaintance with letters". There are broad definitions of literature as the entirety of written works and texts of a particular country, period, or knowledge. In contemporary western culture, the current definition of "literature" seems to have narrowed somewhat and is largely defined now as it is taught within the context of English; incorporating poetry, theatre and dramatic performance, essays, and fictional prose.

It is within this category of English literature that Contemporary literature falls. There is broad agreement that the classification of Contemporary literature represents literature produced from 1960 to the present day. However, it certainly doesn't represent all written works that fall within this time period, and indeed, there is more to Contemporary literature than merely a time period. There are also stylistic issues and issues with personal subjectivity that cause certain classifications within and omissions from this genre to be contested.

While these issues are long-winded, there is a fairly well recoginsed belief that "literature", and therefore Contemporary literature, comprises of writings of a class distinguishable by a high standard of writing; be it beauty, composition, style, significance. Obviously these are all subjective and therein lies the dubious nature of such classification. Reasons that have been given for outcasting certain texts from the classification of Contemporary literature are things like poor grammar and syntax and inconsistent or poorly constructed characters and storylines, but these seem to be rules with exceptions. There is also a belief that certain genre fiction (such as romance and sci-fi) is generally outcast from the realm of "literature", however that is extremely disputable.

At Illiterarty, our classification of texts within the Contemporary literature section is based on both outside sources, and the writing being of a higher standard than that of pulp or popular fiction. This classification is therefore often subjective.

Ten most popular Contemporary literature on Illiterarty

  1. Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
  2. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
  3. Catch-22 By Joseph Heller
  4. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
  5. Something Happened by Joseph Heller
  6. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  7. Waiting by Ha Jin
  8. Bad Boy Brawly Brown by Walter Mosley
  9. Lullaby by Chuck Palaniuk
  10. Survivor by Chuck Palaniuk


This entry is written purely for informative purposes, so the readers of can better understand how we classify our books and can therefore make more informed choices about what to read. We do not claim to be an authorititive source. Quote us in essays/important documents at your own risk!


Image courtesy of beesparkle.

Blog Type: