Yes, I’m in that course, just procrastinating about making my intro post. Hello!
I hear you about the cynicism. I do think literary writers are judged much more by their prose skills than by whether they can actually write a novel. Which makes sense, but only up to a point. An awful lot of literary novels feel like 300+ page short stories in terms of the narrative development and payoff. ‘Light’ really falls into that category for me; it felt like 500 pages of beautiful, increasingly frustrating vignette. (But genre novels have their stereotypical problems too, of course…)