Literary fiction is often linguistically difficult, or unusual, in the way that poetry is. It often contains unfamiliar words or supports political, ideological, religious positions that are not widely accepted. It subverts sentimentality. It makes people think.
Non-fans of literary fiction tend to complain that it sends them to the dictionary (or tries to). They claim literary fiction is guilty of affectation, a term which seems to have changed its meaning of late:
Main Entry: af·fec·ta·tion
1 :displaying extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books : demonstrating profound, recondite, or bookish learning
2 :speech or behavior relating to, or characteristic of poets or poetry Continue reading