No surprise, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is on the cover of the upcoming Sunday New York Times Book Review, with Editor Sam Tanenhaus taking the prerogoative to review it (keywords: “masterly”, “majestic”, “a masterpiece”).

Another title that has already received plenty of attention, and  has the second-most holds of the titles under review, is covered two months after publication, Alan Furst’s Spies of the Balkans (Random House; June 15, 2010). The review, while positive, refuses to grant it the status of literature, reinforcing Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner’s points about the NYT BR‘s approach to popular genres,

Thrillers require plot above all else, which makes it all too easy for them to avoid heroes with any depth or believability. The genre makes a point of satisfying readers’ expectations. In other words, thrillers are by their nature anti-literary, because literature is about, among other things, ambiguity. And as it happens, Furst is a master of plot; the story moves neatly and inexorably to its climax, as Costa, his family and friends leave Salonika, already under bombardment, for a new life. It is this mastery that explains Furst’s success.

A nonfiction title that has been covered widely (including NPR’s Talk of the Nation), The Pain Chronicle: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering by Melanie Thernstrom (FSG; August 17, 2010), also gets attention here.

A May title that hasn’t had received enough attention to date, The Eyes of Willie McGee, (Harper; May 11, 2010) about a man who was electrocuted after being accused of raping a white woman in 1945 in Mississippi, is called, “..a wrenching story, but a rich narrative.”

There’s no surprises on the best seller lists. Below are the new arrivals to the Hardcover Fiction list (all were covered in our preview of the week’s big titles).

#1 James Patterson, Postcard Killers, Little, Brown, 8/16

#4 Frederick Forsyth, The Cobra, Putnam, 8/17

#7 Martin Cruz Smith, Three Stations , S&S 8/17, (cover NYT BR, 8/15),

#9 Lauren Weisberger, Last Night at Chateau Marmont, Atria/S&S 8/17

#11 Dick Francis, Crossfire, Putnam, 8/17

#16 Laura Lippman’s I’d Know You Anywhere, Morrow/HarperCollins, 8/17) falls just short of the main list, arriving at #16 on the extended list in its first week of publication.

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