Books: Great Expectations

Jonathan Franzen thought serious fiction was dead. Now he gives it new life in one of the year's best books

Here's how you know you have written one of the year's most anticipated novels. In the spring your publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, distributes 3,500 advance copies to reviewers and booksellers. Each comes with a note from your celebrated editor, Jonathan Galassi, the head of Farrar, Straus, who calls your book one of the best that his house, also home to Tom Wolfe, Scott Turow and the poet Seamus Heaney, has issued in 15 years. Next there's a movie deal from the producer Scott Rudin, whose credits include Wonder Boys and A Civil Action. Then you get a dust-jacket photo lit...

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