I came across this interesting article by Lev Grossman in the Wall Street Journal:
Grossman says the popularity of YA (up 30.7% so far this year), which he suggests is widely read by adults, versus adult titles (down 17.8%) is explained in a hunger for story, plot, pacing.
As for serious literature he has this to say: "The revolution is under way. The novel is getting entertaining again ... Writers like Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Donna Tartt, Kelly Link, Audrey Niffenegger, Richard Price, Kate Atkinson, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke, to name just a few, are busily grafting the sophisticated, intensely aware literary language of Modernism onto the sturdy narrative roots of genre fiction ... They're forging connections between literary spheres that have been hermetically sealed off from one another for a century ... It's a revolution from below, up from the supermarket racks."
I have to say some of the best crime fiction I've read in recent years has been by Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn), Price (Lush Life) and Cormac McCarthy, who is also mentioned in the article. But I think the article would've been better if he'd looked in the other direction too, to people such as James Lee Burke and Martin Cruz Smith and John le Carre, authors who have long been categorized as genre writers but who transcend the genre, who simply write great novels.