Is the such a thing as literary non-fiction? If so, how do you define it?
Yes there is such a thing as literary fiction. While I don’t read it a lot, I define it as a piece of prose in the non-fiction world. Usually it takes the form of a what would be called the non-fiction novel, or a piece of travel writing. It can also include biographies or memoirs or an essay. It is generally thought to be a very broad and quite vague in the range of books that it includes. To put it simply, it reports on actual people, places or events. One thing it is not is poetry. It is the latest memoir that has hit the bookseller list or the history book that looks at a particular person or a particular event or a particular person within the context of an event.
A good example of literary non-fiction would Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which he described as a non-fiction novel. It has the elements of what people would consider to be a novel: prose and a good story to tell, but its based in reality and on true events.
But above all, the thing that separates it from most other non-fiction, is the quality of the writing. It has a story that draws the reader in, much like a literary fiction book would have, and has a larger message to the book, rather than being a book simply of facts or a collection of literature.