Obscure Literary Genres You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Looking for a new read? Bored with the usual selection of books? Perhaps you need to try one of these genres.

Bangsian
Taken from the name of John Kendrick Bangs, it is a sub-genre of fantasy in which the lives of historical and famous people after death are the subject. Bangs did not actively make up a new genre, but it was a common theme in four of his works such as Mr. Munchausen.

Bildungsroman
This is a type of coming-of-age novel. The lead character in the story undergoes a transformation through education and experience. Examples of this genre are Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Comedy of Manners
Comedy of manners is a form of satire which focuses on the manners of some social classes. They feature stock characters who act like their stereotypes. Notable examples are The Country Wife by William Wycherley and Hay Fever by Noel Coward.

Ergodic
The name is derived from the Greek words meaning “work” and “path.” Reading ergodic literature requires non-trivial participation from the reader to reconstruct the text. It means that the traditional way of reading text from start to finish simply won’t do. The narratives are sometimes not written in order just like in House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Hard Science Fiction
While most science fiction relies on existing technology and theories, hard science fiction ups the tempo with its emphasis on scientific accuracy. If you don’t mind highly technical lingo and even computations, you should read Tau Zero by Poul Anderson, Contact by Carl Sagan, and the Grand Tour Series by Ben Bova.

Hardboiled
Hardboiled fiction blurs the line between crime fiction and detective stories. The genre has probably popularized the antihero lead character, who has a cynic view of the world after witnessing violence and crime from gangs and even the system that’s supposed to protect the people from it. Examples are The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Punk
Punk is a sub-genre of science fiction in which the main character is often marginalized, rebellious, disillusioned and cynical. Steampunk novels are set in an alternate period like the Victorian era. Cyberpunk on the other hand focuses on the impact of modern technology on people such as body modifications. Examples are Perdido Street Station by China Mieville and The Difference Engine by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson.

Shenmo
This Chinese fantasy sub-genre is similar to mythological fantasy in the West. The theme is usually the lives and exploits of the Chinese mythology deities, monsters, immortals and heroes. One example is the Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en.

Wuxia
Wuxia focuses on martial arts. Most of the works are set in a fantasy world, but others also include historical figures in ancient China. One example is the Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, which is a romantic retelling of the Three Kingdoms period.

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