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p. 444. The American Bestsellerlocked

  • John Sutherland


‘The American bestseller’ traces its evolution from the nineteenth century to the present day. Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) broke the Scott and Dickens mould in America, while Mark Twain forged a distinctive national idiom and voice. Pulp fiction emerged in the early twentieth century, forming a mutually beneficial alliance with films. Strong genres were melodrama, romance, the western, crime, science fiction, and horror, though their relative strength fluctuated and still does. The ‘quality superseller’ became a regular feature, thanks to authors such as Margaret Atwood and Tom Wolfe. By the end of the 1990s, John Grisham novels reliably sold two million hardback copies and five times as many in paperback.

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