A number of culprits have been fingered in the frequently diagnosed death of the novel. Writers themselves are sometimes held to blame, especially the modernists of a century ago for exhausting the novel’s form with their experimentations. Cinema, television and mass culture are commonly arraigned as chief suspects.

Even reality itself has come under suspicion. How can the fictional contents of a book compete with the preposterous excess of happenings that passes for fact these days?

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