contemporary literature

What Is Contemporary Literature?

This blog explains some of the essential characteristics and trends of contemporary literature. Before we begin to understand that, let us briefly understand the meaning of contemporary forms of literature.

The term contemporary means living in the present and experiencing the happening in the present time or now. So, contemporary literature means literature that is being created in the present about the situations right now. A better understanding of contemporary literature is the literature created or written after World War II.

While this vague definition provides us with a timeframe from where contemporary literature begins, it is not a clear-cut definition but advocated by most academicians and scholars. Some also argue that the beginning of contemporary literature can be traced back to the 1940s as well

Contemporary literature involves pieces of literature that reflect the social and political turmoil in society. This is often shown through realistic characters and links to the ongoing events and socioeconomic conditions in the world.

An attempt is made to highlight the social strengths and weaknesses and remind society of some important values and virtues we seem to have forgotten in the fast-paced world. Looking at contemporary literature is a dynamic process because society changes with time, and so do messages and the content of contemporary literature.

Analyzing some of the great works of contemporary literature can be an exhausting task that students of literature may be required to do. Sample Assignment is here to the rescue. Take our English academic assistance through online tutoring and receive the best quality original analysis papers on any form of literature.

A trend in literature refers to something that an author adheres to, like ideologies, forms, themes, and expressions, similar to the general course or the popular idea in the period they are writing. For example, in recent times, some of the popular trends in literature that have been widely acclaimed are contemporary trends, science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical, paranormal, etc.

What Is The Role Of Contemporary Literature?

Contemporary literature can be considered to be the history of the present. Contemporary literature performs the role of creating the right passage to present-day history, which is still in the process of making. The points of importance of contemporary literature are:

  • Contemporary literature reflects the social and political viewpoints of society.
  • Contemporary literature talks about the strengths and weaknesses of society and the social evils of society currently.
  • By reading contemporary literature, the reader comes to understand how people are viewing the world.
  • Contemporary literature reflects what others are thinking.
  • Reading contemporary literature provides us with an opportunity to understand people’s reactions to the present society.

What Are The Characteristics Of Contemporary Literature?

A few characteristics of the modern literary trends in English Literature or referred to as contemporary literature, are as follows:

characteristics of contemporary literature

  • Personal point of view: Contemporary literature showcases and describes the social and political views of the author. The author expresses their personal opinions through the dialogues of characters and tries to link those messages with the socio-political events in the works and reality.
  • Innovative narrative resources: The narration of post-modern or contemporary literature is quite dynamic than previous literature trends. Contemporary writers use tools like modification of time and presenting the characters' inner world in their narration style to provide more insight and drama.
  • Magical realism: The development of the style of magical realism is considered to be the hallmark of contemporary literature. This technique of using magical realism is revolutionary and marked by social and political character.
  • Pressing issues: Contemporary literature often tends to revolve around the pressing issue in the world, which can include racism, inequality, economic gap, corruption, mental illness, dogma, globalization, digitalization, etc.
  • Influence of World War II: Contemporary literature is considered the literature produced after the Second World War. Naturally, contemporary literature tends to be influenced by many themes and motifs revolving around World War II.
  • Superimposition of fiction and nonfiction: The distinction between fiction and nonfiction often becomes blurry in contemporary literature. This is referred to as crosses. Fiction writers often use authentic material and information in their stories and make many parallels to real-life events. On the other hand, non-fiction writers use dialogue and imaginary scenarios to arouse and maintain the readers' interest.

What Are The Themes Of Contemporary Literature?

Some of the essential themes of contemporary literature are:

  • Racism
  • Income inequality
  • Effects of globalization
  • Social hierarchy
  • Identity
  • History and memory
  • Technology
  • Intertextuality
  • The American Dream
  • Tragedy

Contemporary Novels For AP Literature

A few contemporary novels for AP literature reading list are:

  • Americanah by Adichie
  • Reservation Blues by Sherman
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • Beloved by Tom Morrison
  • The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck
  • The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald
  • The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
  • The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

A few contemporary era literature books with an element of realism are:

  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • We Were Liars by Lockhart
  • The hate you give by Angie Thomas
  • George by Alex Gino
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green

contemporary realism literature

What Are The Examples Of Contemporary Literature?

A few famous examples globally of contemporary classic literature can include:

  • Tanya Thompson’s Red Russia
  • The Kite Runner by Hosseini
  • Life of Pi by Martel
  • Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Hosseini
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan

A few examples of contemporary trends in Australian literature include:

  • The Cardboard Crown (1952), A Difficult Young Man (1955) and Outbreak of Love(1957) by Martin Bloyd
  • Happy Valley (1939), Riders in the Chariot, The Season at Sarsaparilla, The Tree of Man by the first Australian Nobel Prize in Literature winner Patrick White
  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  • Three Dollars by Elliot Perlman
  • Subtopia by Andrew McCann
  • Capital by Anthony Macris
  • Danger Game by Kalinda Ashton

What Is The Difference Between Modern And Contemporary Literature?

While some themes can be found in both the modern and contemporary literature and hardly any time gap exists between the two, a few essential points of difference between modern and contemporary literature are:





Modern literature is the literature created in the late 19th and early 20th century which departed drastically from the classical and traditional forms

Contemporary literature refers to the literature being created in the present, post the Second World War and involves the expression of social and political viewpoints and the realism more than the earlier styles of writing.

Time Period

Modern literature is the literature written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The beginning of the era of contemporary literature is considered to be from the Second World War (1940) and its time frame is still continuing.


Modern literature mostly includes literature in North America and Europe.

Contemporary literature includes literature from all over the world.

Theme and writing pattern

Modern literature was more focused on themes like inner self and consciousness. The stream of consciousness was often used as a literary technique.

Contemporary literature often includes stories with a base in reality. Contemporary literature stories are more character-driven than plot-driven.

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