If the previous post sounds extreme, then it's because it's a response to the domination of the serious literary scene by a flawed philosophy, namely postmodernism.
One characteristic of a great writer, one would think, would be having a first-rate mind. First-rate novelists of the past like Tolstoy used their expansive intelligence to look outward, at the things of this world-- war, birth, death, the land, marriage-- and beyond the things of the world. It's not that today's writers are less intelligent than in the past-- it's what use they make of that intelligence. I'll concede that David Foster Wallace was highly intelligent. Yet because of his flawed philosophy, he used that intelligence to gaze inward, ever inward, fixed solipsistically on his own thoughts and feelings, and the minute sense impressions of life.