Contemporary literature is defined as literature written after World War II through the current day. While this is a vague definition, there is not a clear-cut explanation of this concept — only interpretation by scholars and academics. While there is some disagreement, most agree that contemporary literature is writing completed after 1940.
Works of contemporary literature reflect a society’s social and/or political viewpoints, shown through realistic characters, connections to current events and socioeconomic messages. The writers are looking for trends that illuminate societal strengths and weaknesses to remind society of lessons they should learn and questions they should ask. So when we think of contemporary literature, we cannot simply look at a few themes or settings. Since society changes over time, so do the content and messages of this writing.
When we talk about contemporary literature and the start date of this label, we have to acknowledge World War II and the surrounding events. The horrors of the war, including bombs, ground wars, genocide and corruption, are the pathways to this type of literature. It is from these real-life themes that we find the beginning of a new period of writing.