Literary Fiction

  • Barbara Korte
  • Georg Zipp


The fiction segment of the book market ranges from middle-brow to aesthetically more complex texts. The chapter discusses the representation of poverty in “middlebrow” fiction (J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, Kerry Hudson’s Tony Hogan and Patrick Gale’s A Perfectly Good Man) and contrasts its approaches to decidedly “literary” novels, which offer “singular” treatments of poverty and homelessness and are distinguished by their nuanced and innovative use of language, voice and perspective. Novels such as John Berger’s King and Jon McGregor’s Even the Dogs configure social suffering in ways that can provoke readers to re-think what they know about poverty and poor people.


John Berger Jon McGregor J.K. Rowling literariness middlebrow 


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  1. 3.
    Head specifically notes sequels of 1950s and 60s working-class novels such as Alan Sillitoe’s Birthday (2001)Google Scholar
  2. und Nell Dunn’s My Silver Shoes (1996), which “register the gradual disappearance of specifically working-class concerns […] and an increasing, though relative, sense of empowerment” (2006, 240).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    In Livi Michael’s All the Dark Air (1997) a young woman, Julie, has to sort out her life when she becomes pregnant, becoming painfully aware of the class differences within her family (her own lower-working-class background versus her aunt’s comfortable middle-class lifestyle) and trying to realise her dream of a home with her boyfriend Mick, who used to live on the street and whose only income is generated by selling The Big Issue. Google Scholar
  4. For a discussion of one of Michael’s books for young readers see Chapter 6. Kelman’s Kieron Smith, Boy (2008) is the first-person narrative of a boy growing up in Glasgow during the 1980s.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Preston Sturges’s classic Sullivan’s Travels (1941), for instance, is a satirical comedy about a successful Hollywood director who disguises himself as a homeless person in order to study social suffering.Google Scholar

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© Barbara Korte and Georg Zipp 2014

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  • Barbara Korte
  • Georg Zipp

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