Fiction is Fiction


What does “realism” mean, anyway? Over at Ploughshares, Rumpus contributor and Gigantic magazine editor Lincoln Michel discusses the problems of the term “realism” when it comes to literature:

I tend to think it is an ill-defined term, not a useful way to think of most fiction, and it spawns some of the worst criticism. “It didn’t feel realistic!” is the go-to complaint for everyone from Amazon reviewers to undergrad workshoppers who didn’t bother to understand what a text was trying to do.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →