Does Lad Lit Have to be Comedy?

My recent progress towards the completion of my novel has me wondering about what genre it is. As someone who reads, and is largely inspired by, what is known as “lad-lit”, naturally, it seems to make sense that my novel would fit in that category. I’ve previously pondered what makes lad-lit “lad-lit” but the definition I found back then, in retrospect, wasn’t very good. A recent search (and by recent, I mean a few minutes ago, I found the following definition of lad-lit.

Lad Lit is a fictional genre of male-authored novels about young men and their emotional and personal lives, often characterized by a confessional and humorous writing style.

Everything about this definition fits… except the part about the humorous writing style. There is some comic relief in my novel, but it’s generally more serious in tone. Thinking about it, humor seems to be the most common characteristic of lad-lit these days. In an interview on Steven Scaffardi’s Lad Lit blog, author Matthew Norman (another author I enjoy) said “…my books are comedies. It’s taken me a while to fully admit that to myself. There are serious things in them, of course—even downright depressing things. But humor is always there. I like comedy because it makes the difficult stuff more palatable.” When I think about the novel I’m writing, his books are definitely feel as though they ale in the same “genre” that I am writing… but I feel my “formula” is the opposite. My novel-in-progress has some comedy in it, but it’s not meant to be a laugh-out-loud comedy. So, I’m again at a loss.

I can say for sure that my novel does not fall under the literary fiction genre:

Literary fiction comprises fictional works that hold literary merit; that is to say, they are works that offer deliberate social commentary or political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition.

My novel may be more serious than comedic, but I’m certainly not trying for a Pulitzer Prize with it. I’m not trying any political or social commentary with the story or any deliberate symbolism. It’s a story meant to entertain. So, scratch literary fiction off the list.

So, what else is there? Well, there’s contemporary fiction:

Contemporary fiction can be defined as literature written by authors who refuse to reside within literary boundaries, choosing to reflect the realities, insanities, absurdities, ironies, comedies and contradictions present in post-globalization human cultures.

This is pretty close, but I wouldn’t say I’m trying to push any boundaries either. This definition suggests contemporary fiction is a more complex genre than my novel is.

So really, we go back to lad-lit. But there’s that whole issue with the “humorous writing style.” I like humorous books. There’s nothing wrong with humor. But I just don’t see my story as ever being classified as humor. So I’m once again left wondering, what the hell genre will I classify my novel as? Do I focus more on answering the question of who my target audience is rather than what the style is?

UPDATE: So, I asked Steven Scaffardi for his input on Twitter. Here’s what he said:

One response to “Does Lad Lit Have to be Comedy?”

  1. […] is a question I’ve been asking myself for a while. Now that the first draft of my novel Not Famous is complete, I’m choosing to revisit […]

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