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Top Must-Read Best 21st Century Authors (2024)


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The 21st century has given us many great writers whose books have become popular worldwide. These 21st-century authors wrote in different niches, significantly impacting the books we read today. In this article, we’ll explore the notable authors from the 21st century that you should read.

1. J. K. Rowling

K. Rowling, the British author behind the famous Harry Potter series, was born in 1965. She fell in love with books as a child and dreamt of becoming a writer. In 1997, she released the first Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” This magical series includes seven novels, with the last one, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” published in 2007. Thanks to the incredible success of Harry Potter and her adult novels, she’s one of the highest-earning 21st century authors. The first Harry Potter movie by Warner Brothers came out in 2001, kickstarting a dedicated fan base for the boy wizard and his enchanting world.

What separates Harry Potter, much like Agatha Christie’s timeless appeal, is its ability to appeal to kids and grown-ups. J. K. Rowling is also known for supporting various children’s charities and ranking as one of the UK’s most generous charitable donors among the 21st century authors.

2. Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith, akin to authors in the best autobiography books, is an English novelist and professor who graduated from King’s College and the University of Cambridge. Born in London in 1975, she initially dreamed of a dance and musical theater career before her passion for literature took over. Her debut novel, “White Teeth,” garnered attention before its completion and became a bestseller in 2000. Her writing style often falls into the category of “hysterical realism.”

In 2002, Smith was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and named one of Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003. She holds a tenured professorship in the fiction genre at New York University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

She was born in Nigeria in 1977 and grew up on a college campus where she developed her love for education and writing. After earning degrees in Communication and Political Science from Eastern Connecticut State University and obtaining Master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Yale, she began her journey as a writer.

Adichie’s debut novel, “Purple Hibiscus,” won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. She also wrote “Half of a Yellow Sun” and “The Thing Around Your Neck,” a collection of short stories. “Half of a Yellow Sun” received the Women’s Prize for Fiction writing.

Adichie is also a prominent feminist, like Frederick Douglass in his must-read books, and her writings often explore themes of women’s rights, and her writings often explore themes of women’s rights and independence. In addition to her novels, she has delivered inspiring TED Talks and continues to produce thought-provoking literature.

4. Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy, born in 1933 in Rhode Island, started publishing books in 1979 and has continued into the 21st century. His breakthrough novel, “All the Pretty Horses,” received critical acclaim and awards, including the National Book Critics Circle and National Book Award. In 2006, his book “The Road” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

McCarthy’s impressive work as one of the best 21st-century authors includes ten novels, two plays, five screenplays, and two short stories, often featuring Western and post-apocalyptic themes. He is associated with the Santa Fe Institute and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2012.

5. Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante is the ghost author of several novels published initially in Italian, most notably the Neapolitan Novels, a four-volume series centered around two girls from Naples. The author’s identity remains a mystery, shrouding her biography in secrecy.

Ferrante’s secrecy hasn’t delayed her influence, as she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2016. She believes that keeping her identity hidden is essential for her creative process. “My Brilliant Friend” is one of her most renowned works, part of the Neapolitan Novels series, and her age and nationality remain undisclosed.

6. George Saunders

George Saunders is a versatile 21st century author who explores various genres, from children’s books and novels to short stories and essays. Born in Texas in 1958, he attended the Colorado School of Mines and earned a graduate degree from Syracuse University. He now teaches creative writing at Syracuse University and has received prestigious fellowships like the Guggenheim and MacArthur.

Saunders boasts many award-winning works, including “Tenth of December,” which won the Folio Prize, and “Lincoln in the Bardo,” which earned him the Booker Prize in 2017. He contributes to renowned publications like GQ, The New Yorker, and Harper’s.

George Saunders has written 11 books and holds memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He’s been recognized as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time Magazine and has appeared on various talk shows, including The Colbert Report.

7. Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel, a British writer born in 1952 who sadly passed away in 2022, was known for her memoirs, short stories, and historical fiction. She attended the University of Sheffield and worked in various roles, including as a social worker and a sales assistant, before realizing her true calling as a writer.

Mantel authored numerous books. Her debut novel, “Every Day is Mother’s Day,” was published in 1985. Her most famous work is “Wolf Hall,” which won the Booker Prize 2009. She claimed the Booker Prize again in 2012 for its sequel, “Bring up the Bodies.” Mantel also delved into historical biography with “Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life.”

Throughout her career, Mantel faced controversies due to her critical remarks about monarchy and her statement regarding Margaret Thatcher. She is one of the most controversial 21st century authors.

8. Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan is one of the best 21st century authors known for her short stories and novels. She was born in 1962 in Chicago and studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Cambridge. She once dated Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. In 2018, she served as the president of the PEN America Center.

Egan has written for magazines like The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Zoetrope. Her debut novel, “The Invisible Circus,” was published in 1995 and later became a movie with the same title. One of her most famous works is “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” which earned her the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle award in 2011. If you are interested in reading stories that resemble the style of Jennifer Egan, explore book publishers new york where you will find books of this type.

Core Components Explored

Author & Background Notable Works Unique Contributions & Awards
J.K. Rowling: British author, loved books since childhood. Harry Potter series Highest-earning 21st-century author, supported various children’s charities.
Zadie Smith: English novelist, initially interested in dance. White Teeth Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, tenured professorship at NYU.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Nigerian, passionate about education. Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, prominent feminist, and TED speaker.
Cormac McCarthy: Started publishing in 1979, American author. The Road, All the Pretty Horses Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Elena Ferrante: Italian “ghost” author, identity a mystery. My Brilliant Friend, Neapolitan Novels series Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people (2016).
George Saunders: American, diverse genre writer. Tenth of December, Lincoln in the Bardo Booker Prize, Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, Syracuse University faculty.
Hilary Mantel: British, diverse career before writing. Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies Double Booker Prize winner, historical biography writer.
Jennifer Egan: American, studied at UPenn and Cambridge. A Visit from the Goon Squad Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle award, former PEN America Center president.


In the 21st century, we’ve been lucky to have many great writers who’ve created amazing stories. 21st century authors cover women’s rights, fantasy, science fiction, and romance topics. When you read their books, you’ll find interesting stories, fascinating characters, and unforgettable tales that will stick with you even after reading.

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