Grunge Lit is an Australian literary genre usually applied to fictional or semi-autobiographical writing concerned with young people living in suburban or inner-city surroundings. The genre characterises itself by examining "gritty, dirty, real existences", where life revolves around a nihilistic pursuit of vices such as sex, drugs and alcohol. It has been described as both a sub-set of Dirty realism and an offshoot of Generation X literature. The genre was first coined in 1995 to capitalise on the success of Andrew McGahan's first novel Praise which had been released in 1991 and became popular with sub-30 year old readers, a previously under-investigated demographic. Since its invention the term Grunge Lit has been retrospectively applied to novels written as early as 1977.
The majority of Grunge Lit works place their subjects within an urban or suburban environment where they explore the relationship between the body and the soul. Often the central characters are disfranchised, lacking drive and determination beyond the desire to satisfy their basic needs. The authors use a confessional style of narration and autobiographical elements to achieve an intimacy with the reader. Although arousing antithetical views on publication, the majority of Grunge Lit books received little critical attention.
Australian authors recognised as having written Grunge Lit include Andrew McGahan whose novel Praise, won the Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1991, Helen Garner whose novel Monkey Grip won the National Book Council Award in 1978 and Edward Berridge who wrote The Lives of the Saints.
- Leishman, Kirsty, 'Australian Grunge Literature and the Conflict between Literary Generations', Journal of Australian Studies, 23.63 (1999), pp. 94–102
- Vernay, Jean-François, 'Grunge Fiction', The Literary Encyclopedia, 6 November 2008, accessed 9 September 2009
- Brooks, Karen, 'Shit Creek: Suburbia, Abjection and Subjectivity in Australian 'Grunge' Fiction', Australian Literary Studies, 18 (1998), pp. 87-100, accessed 10 September 2009