What are the current trends in literary short fiction? which literary school, movement rules the contemporary short story now?

Symbolism, magical realism, surrealism, post modernism or any other literary movement?

Most importantly, is symbolism still relevant in literary fiction short stories in the second decade of the twenty first century?

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    This isn't an answer to your question, which is why I didn't post as an answer, but I've always been told that before you can write towards the market, you have to write for yourself. Regardless of whether there is a market for that style or not, if the popular genre is not something you personally enjoy, then you won't be happy with what you're writing, and that will definitely show and make it less enjoyable for the readers, hence affecting the appreciation, sales, etc. Dec 31, 2016 at 12:39
  • The problem I have with this question is that it seems inherently lazy and it won't be useful to future askers. I could see a ton of value in a question that asks "how do I find out what the current trends in X topic are" or "what's the difference between Y trend and Z trend", but this question will only be useful until the answers go out of date. Also, as a writer, it will be far more useful to you to be reading the magazines and journals that carry your genre than to get the answers by asking on SE.
    – Jerenda
    Jan 4, 2017 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


I would say that there are two questions here pertaining to short term "current trends" which may or may not feed into a longer term "literary movement". A literary movement is generally greater than any short fiction fashions and could span decades if not centuries.


For year on year trends there are several statistical sources, my personal goto guide being:

The Writers and Artists Yearbook 2016

Tom Tivnan writes on "News, views and trends in book publishing" that 7/10 top sellers for 2014 were in the YA genre, helped by films. Examples given include The Maze Runner, The Fault in our Stars and Divergent. Examples not given but n previous top seller lists would be Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games.

Not specifically mentioned but implied are the themes of "urban fantasy", "post apocalyptic" and "revolutionary". Not forgetting of course the frequent, recent occurance of vampires, zombies and werewolves.

Literary movement

For an exact definition of the current literary movement, we may have to wait 50 years or so, since this is often defined after the event. The nearest movements that summarize the current short term trends would be:

  • Magical Realism (magic appearing in realistic circumstances)
  • Stridentism (social revolution)
  • Transrealism (mixture of fantasy and sci-fi)

I've also heard 'post postmodernism' applied to the literary movement of the last century.


Finally, is symbolism still relevant? Well yes of course it is, creative expression is still relevant and used and will continue to be so as long as there are writers and artists.

Symbolism may have caught fire in 1800s France but is still very much alive today. For example, the fact that Harry Potter had a lightening scar could be considered symbolism or Katniss's Mockingjay pin.

In decades to come, literary critics may combine the trends (should they continue) into a new literary movement called "Symbolic Magical Postapocalytic Trans Unrealism - with zombies".

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