The Novel in the Balance investigates the issue of "balance" as a thematic and stylistic feature of contemporary American fiction. In his refreshingly jargon-free examination of modern and postmodern writings, Arthur Saltzman cites the hovering, poised, provisional quality of contemporary fiction as the impetus for his study, and he distinguishes paradox as the common philosophical premise and formal principle uniting the works he considers here. Through a comparative analysis of numerous exemplary modern and postmodern novels, Saltzman identifies the strategies employed to produce a state of equilibrium between opposing forces and opposing viewpoints. Whereas previous fiction embraced formal and philosophical resolution, contemporary fiction, as Saltzman contends, playfully invites disjunction and rupture into its portrayal of reality. Inspired by its subject, the book's structure mirrors the balance found throughout each of the spotlighted works. In the six central chapters, Saltzman juxtaposes compatible novels and then interprets them against, or in terms of, one another. He compares the work of John Hawkes and Marilynne Robinson, E. L. Doctorow and Tim O'Brien, Don DeLillo and Joseph McElroy, Robert Coover and Paul Auster, Richard Powers and Stanley Elkin, Leslie Marmon Silko and Charles Johnson, and others. As he probes the issue of balance in recent American fiction, Saltzman joins the ongoing debate between modernist orthodoxies and postmodernist objections and amplifications.