misery lit
n. A memoir or novel that focuses on extreme personal trauma and abuse. Also: misery-lit, mis lit, misery literature, misery memoir.

Example Citations:
Today's idea: Is women's fiction plagued by "misery lit," obsessed with bereavement, child abuse and rape? Or "chick lit," obsessed with Prada handbags and landing the perfect catch? Or is it torn between the two? British writers have at it.
—Tom Kuntz, "Woe Is Women's Lit," Idea of the Day (NYTimes.com), March 18, 2010

Still, prior to the Hughes and Hughes news, the recession had yet to fully impact in the way that it has in the UK, where the story is resembling something from the worst misery lit. When Borders collapsed in the UK, it left Waterstone's as the only national chain and even that has suffered losses strong enough for it to sack its chief and reshape its business model.
—Shane Hegarty, "Is closing a bookshop akin to knocking down a unicorn?," The Irish Times, March 6, 2010

Earliest Citation:
Today's Britain, we're told, is the nation of Big Brother self-exposure and of weepy David Beckham, of therapy culture, piles of roadside flowers and self-indulgent "misery lit" memoirs on the bestsellers lists.
—Jonathan Freedland, "How London carried on," The Guardian, July 7, 2006

Notes:
The full phrase "misery literature" is a bit older. Google Books claims that there are two instances of the phrase in the 1988 book Beneath the American Renaissance, by David S. Reynolds but, maddeningly, the partial page snippets don't show the actual phrase.

So the earliest use of "misery literature" that I can confirm is from 1996:

But in much of the mystery-and-misery literature, that faith is sorely tried, as one character after another comes to grief in the threatening city.
—Wyn Kelley, "Melville's City," Cambridge University Press, July 26, 1996

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