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Is the great novel dead?

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Alexandre Duret-Lutz / Flickr

It's certainly not a new argument, but novelist and professor Tim Parks makes a compelling case in an essay for The New York Review of Books that the days of great novels are behind us. Modern life, its technologies, and its conveniences have stolen the concentration that humans need to process a deeply complex and nuanced novel, Parks argues, which has led to a rash of simple, reductive works that have become wildly popular.

Basically, 50 Shades of Grey is no Faulkner. So how does great literature survive? Parks thinks it'll have to come in bite-sized chunks, while full-length novels will be left to the kinds of franchises that have taken bookshelves (and big screens) by storm over the past couple decades.