With the publication of Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, critics have yet another opportunity to appraise King's role in the literary world as well as the commercial. In the New Yorker, Joshua Rothman points out an often-overlooked aspect of King's body of work: He's not exclusively a horror writer at all.
King’s success as a genre fantasist is obvious and undeniable—it’s absolutely central to who he is as a writer. And yet critics and writers, in embracing King, have often done so by ignoring his otherworldliness and lauding his realism. Margaret Atwood, for example, writing about “Doctor Sleep” in the Times Book Review, argued that, “down below the horror trappings,” the book was “about families,” and especially about the family as a place where two kinds of anger, “righteous” and “destructive,” express themselves. In 2003, when the National Book Foundation awarded King a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters—the year before, the winner had been Philip Roth —the writer Walter Mosley, in introducing King, praised “his almost instinctual understanding of the fears that form the psyche of Americag’s working class. He knows fear,” Mosley said, “and not the fear of demonic forces alone but also of loneliness and poverty, of hunger and the unknown."