Book clinic: what contemporary literary fiction is edifying? | fiction


Q: Is there any modern literary fiction that isn’t completely depressing? I read quite a bit but end up reading depressing book after depressing book and sometimes life demands something a little more uplifting.
Anonymous biologist, 23, Seattle, Washington, United States

A: Alex Preston, author and reviewer, writes:
This may be a response to the horror of the political climate, fractures and fragmentation that surround us, but there is a real boom right now in exactly the kind of book you are looking for. It seems we no longer want to wander in the memories of misery or darkness Missing girl-ish thrillers. We want books that are beacons, that tell us that we are not alone and that offer hope. The movement now known as “up lit” – uplifting literature – dates back to a few years of best-selling surprises: Harold Fry’s unlikely pilgrimage by Rachel Joyce and The century… by Jonas Jonasson, both stories about old people doing amazing things, both carefully crossing the line between strong emotion and sentimentality. Joyce’s novel is the best of the two and would be a good place to start.

Gail Honeyman is the current queen of the lit up – she Eleanor Oliphant is doing absolutely fine is a joyful story of loneliness and eccentricity, of love and friendship. See also the magnificent by Matt Haig How to stop time, The marvelous of Jean Kwok Girl in translation, and AL Kennedy The little Prince-inspired The little snake.

I leave you however with George Saunders, whose novel Lincoln in the Bardo may take as its subject a tragedy – the death of the president’s son – but make no mistake about it. It is a book of wisdom, forgiveness, and compassion that mends the heart.

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