Lad lit (genre)

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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.

The term combines the word "lad," which refers to a boy or young man and "lit," which is short for "literature." The term "lad lit" can be used as a noun to refer to the genre of fiction (about young men and their emotional and personal lives), or as a modifier (e.g., "lad-lit novels").


Lad lit typically concerns itself with the trials and tribulations of urban twenty and thirty something men, faced with changing heterosexual mores and the pursuit of a desired lifestyle. The stories revolve around issues like male identity crisis and masculine insecurity in relationships as a result of the social pressures and the expectations of how they should behave in work, love and life, men’s fear and final embrace of marriage<[1] In other words, the final maturation into manhood.[2]


"Lad lit" is a term of the 1990s that was originated in Britain, where it was developed for marketing purposes. Several publishers, encouraged by the increasing sales of glossy magazines (Maxim, Esquire, GQ, FHM), believed that such fiction would open up a new readership. Thus, lad lit is not its own phenomenon, but rather part of a larger cultural and socioeconomic movement.

This new publishing category ostensibly sought to redefine masculinity.[3] The protagonist of these books is the young man on the make, mindlessly pursuing booze, babes and football. His ineptitude, drunken-ness and compulsive materialism were part of his charm.[4] The figure was created in contrast with the New Man of the feminist era and, beneath the crass surface, the lads are attractive, funny, bright, observant, inventive, charming and excruciatingly honest. They are characters who seem to deserve more from life and romance than they are getting.<[1]

Lad lit has been mistakenly believed to be a backlash against the chick lit phenomena,[5] due to its later arrival in the USA, but academics, such as E. Showalter and N. Danford, have extended the term to cover earlier fictions, including Martin Amis’s The Rachel Papers(1973) and Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero(1985). Providing the most comprehensive definition of lad literature, Showalter links the modern publishing category to its roots in 1950s British literature:

Stretching from Kingsley to Martin Amis, Ladlit was comic in the traditional sense that it had a happy ending. It was romantic in the modern sense that it confronted men’s fear and final embrace of marriage and adult responsibilities. It was confessional in the postmodern sense that the male protagonists and unreliable first-person narrators betrayed beneath their bravado the story of their insecurities, panic, cold sweats, performance anxieties and phobias. At the low end of the market, Ladlit was the masculine equivalent of the Bridget Jones Phenomenon; at the high end of the high street, it was a masterly examination of male identity in contemporary Britain".[1]


Nick Hornby is considered to be the originator of the genre. His early novels, Fever Pitch(1992), High Fidelity(1995) and About a boy (1997), each have a protagonist dominated by a typically masculine obsession (football, pop music, gadgetry) that reflects his inability to communicate with women.

Other authors associated with this new wave of fiction include: Tony Parsons, Man and Boy (1991); Tim Lott, White City Blue (1999); Mike Gayle My Legendary Girlfriend (2000); Matt Dunn, The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook (2006); Danny Wallace, Yes Man (2008); Kyle Smith, "Love Monkey" (2009); Zack Love, "Sex in the Title" (2013).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Ladlit". by Elaine Showalter in On Modern Fiction ed. by Zachary Leader and published by Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ "The 'Lad Lit' dilemma : institutional influences on creative writing practice" .Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology. by Martin, Samuel James Louis (2008);
  3. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (3 ed.)by Chris Baldick;
  4. ^ Ladlit -- an essay by Elaine Showalter that appears in On Modern Fiction edited by Zachary Leader and published by Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (3 ed.)by Chris Baldick;