What genre best describes my novel about the life of a character whose entirely fictional history includes many realistically humorous interludes as well as some serious, even tragic incidents? It begins with his birth in 1968 and finishes when he is in late middle age in approximately contemporary times.There is nothing autobiographical about it, I hasten to add.

  • I don't think it can be specified with generalizations. It'd depend on what the characteristic of the situations is and your attitude to the story - what you want to convey. Based on what I see I'd call it drama? Would you agree? – Teddy Markov Nov 24 '16 at 14:37
  • Thanks a lot, Teddy. The story was born of a short writing exercise which then took on a life of its own. The character is a normal English bloke born of an unconventional mother. It begins with his pregnant mother's close brush with death then describes different events in his life as he makes his way to middle age. There are dramatic moments in it but these are outweighed by the number of humorous happenings. I can't think how to describe it without telling the story. I asked my question to help me choose an agent. My heart sank when I saw online what genres agents want nowadays. – topcol Nov 24 '16 at 18:27
  • Hm, in this case I'd say satire. You can search for satire novels in Google and compare the result with yours. This way you'd be confident in choosing. You can also look for famous novels you think are like yours and check their genre. For example "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" but a novel alternative. I have no experience in looking for an agent but I think choosing a film genre like psychological thriller or romantic comedy will do better than comedy or tragedy. – Teddy Markov Nov 25 '16 at 15:22

Genres are literary ghettos. They are places where people with particular and highly specific tastes (cosy mysteries, sword and sorcery, horse stories) can be assure that they get what they paid for and just what they paid for. Not all fiction belongs in these ghettos. Much of it serves an audience with more catholic tastes who are willing to try different things (which does not exclude them visiting the genre ghettos from time to time). They do not demand that every book they read must contain one wizard and at least 15 elves, 6 dwarves, a magic sword, and one plucky heroine.

If a book does not fall into an obvious genre ghetto, that simply means it is mainstream in its appeal, or at least is meant to be. The term for that (unsurprisingly) is "mainstream".

  • How right you are mbakeranalecta! As I said in my answer to Teddy Markov, I asked the question to help me select a suitable agent to whom I could send my novel. I spent hours googling literary agents for my first novel (not this one) and sent off the requisite sample chapters etc to six who I deemed appropriate. I described it as historical because it covers the period 1890 to 1918 and takes place in England and France. They replied that it did not meet the requirements of their readership or words to that effect. – topcol Nov 24 '16 at 18:38

I would consider that Realistic Fiction. Realistic Fiction is where everything is fictional, but could happen in real life, hence the name.

"Realistic fiction typically involves a story whose basic setting (time and location in the world) is real and whose events could feasibly happen in that real-world setting." -Wikipedia

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