This book provides a wide-ranging discussion of realism, postmodernism, literary theory and popular fiction, before focusing on the careers of four prominent novelists. Despite wildly contrasting ambitions and agendas, all four grow progressively more sympathetic to the expectations of a mainstream literary audience, noting the increasingly neglected yet archetypal need for strong explanatory narrative even while remaining wary of its limitations, presumptions, and potential abuses. Exploring novels that manage to bridge the gap between accessible storytelling and literary theory, this book shows how contemporary authors reconcile values of postmodern literary experimentation and traditional realism.

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