(Itsuo Inouye/AP)

The third and final reason why the literary [sic] is wary of the financial concerns [is] complexity. ... In order to put the full complexity of these worlds into a story, you would have to explain complicated subjects, and give the explanation however much time and space it needs. But you can’t explain in fiction, not like that and not at that necessary length... explanations break fiction. It’s fine in small doses, as a dollop of rationale before the main course of drama, but anything longer and the reader wakes hours later to the familiar clanking noise of the milkman delivering bottles to the front door...

There are unlikely to be many novels that describe in detail the modern world of finance, just as there are unlikely to be many about the detailed specifics of any other work-world: these are now too complex and specialised. There’s something sad about that but at least it means that novelists know where they should concentrate: on the truths about people that remain true.

That’s not to say that all contemporary fiction writers have backed off, and some believe that fiction can, in fact, succeed in capturing Wall Street’s complexity. Adam Haslett’s “Union Atlantic,” for instance, features a banker and president of the New York Federal Reserve. And Felix Salmon recently praised Thomas Harris’s “Fear Index” for accurately capturing the intricacies of the hedge fund world: “The greatest pleasure of this book is that it gets the finance right.”