March 05, 1984 12:00 PM

John Irving, above, took the themes of serious literature—inner turmoil, morality, death, sex—and made them the subjects of outlandish, accessible best-sellers, The World According to Garp (1978) and The Hotel New Hampshire (1981). Anne Tyler gets better with each book. Her most recent works, Earthly Possessions (1977), Morgan’s Passing (1980) and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), have made her the preeminent chronicler of the modern American family.

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