I am a bit of an old soul. Though I may be physically present in the now, my mind flitters off away into bygone eras- the heyday of the 1920’s, the Depression of the 1930’s or the tumultuous times of the Great and Second World Wars. I wonder what it must have been like to live in the Regency, Victorian or Edwardian periods or in Imperial Russia. If only I could travel back in time armed with a package of antibiotics and an iPad!
It is quite natural that my reading should be centered on mostly writing from these periods and genres. That is not to say that I do not enjoy a few contemporary authors and I hope to build on that list in the following years. Ironically, most of these authors write of bygone eras or have an old-fashioned way with words.
Here in no particular order are a few of my most read, contemporary authors:
1) Alexander McCall Smith:
McCall Smith is perhaps my most beloved contemporary author. I’ve enjoyed delving into both his Isabel Dalhousie series and 44 Scotland Street series, both set in Edinburgh. I’ve also enjoyed the simple stories of the Mme Ramotswe set in Africa. His stories have a simple charm, offer great minute details into daily life and a dry humour. He reminds me of a male Barbara Pym or a modern day PG Wodehouse.
2) Kate Atkinson:
I read Atkinson’s ‘Life after Life’ which was a stunning novel written in an unusual format telling of an individual’s experience of the second World War. There was great depth to the historical detail provided by Atkinson’s storytelling. I cannot wait to read more.
3) Jacqueline Winspear:
If you like the ‘cozy mystery’ genre and if you enjoy historical fiction, then Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is for you. I appreciate Winspear’s great attention to historical detail and exacting prose. She has an eye for documenting the minutia of everyday life.
There are a number of books describing expat life in the South of France, but few do so as evocatively as Peter Mayle. All the sights, sounds and flavours of Provençal life are embodied in his sunny, descriptive prose.
5) Paula McLain:
I greatly enjoyed McLain’s novel .’The Paris Wife’, providing a fictional (yet quite believable) account of Hemingway’s life in Paris from the perspective of his first wife Hadley. The narrative is smooth and free flowing and very engaging.
6) PD James:
I remember being quite absorbed with PD James’ Cordelia Grey mystery, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Though decidedly gritty, it was one of those mystery/thrillers that you really cannot put down.
7) Colin Dexter:
Dexter weaves a wonderful web of mystery and history on the streets of Oxford in his Inspector Morse series. They are fast, intelligent and absorbing reads.
8) Helen Fielding:
I grew up reading Fielding’s entertaining ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’. I have a great love for the epistolary format of storytelling and Fielding’s depiction of a modern day ‘Pride and Prejudice’ scenario is both refreshing and extremely funny.
9) JK Rowling:
Where would we be without the magical world Rowling has created in her Harry Potter novels? Just as I grew up with the magic of Enid Blyton and CS Lewis’s stories, many generations of children have already grown up with the comfort of the mystical realm of these fantasy novels.
10) Vikram Seth:
I do believe that Seth’s magnum opus ‘A Suitable Boy’ will be a classic that will be remembered and loved many years from now. Not only is his prose lovely, the scope of his novel is quite breathtaking and true to the narrow slice of historical time he has depicted in post- Independence India.
An Equal Music is another favourite book of mine.
Other authors I wish to read soon are Donna Tartt, Murakami, Adichie and many others.
Tell me, who your favourite authors are, who are living in the present day and age?
8 thoughts on “10 Contemporary Authors I Enjoy Reading”
I absolutely loved Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, though it’s been quite a while since I read it (also I was pretty young) and I definitely plan on reading it again in the future. I have Atkinson’s Life After Life on my shelves! It’s been around two years since I bought it and still haven’t picked it up. I actually didn’t know that it was a WWII story; knowing that will actually make me pick up the book sooner 🙂
A Suitable Boy is such an epic tale. Life after Life is a wonderful historical story. Hope you g to enjoy it soon.
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I recently read A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson and thought it was excellent. I really need to find some more of her books. I am not particularly good at contemporary authors. However, there are a few I like that aren’t on your list. Sharon Kay Penman writes huge historical novels, meticulously researched and fascinating to read. She has a Plantagenet series and a Welsh Princes trilogy. Plus, she has written some medieval mysteries. I also like Lois McMasters Bujold. She writes science fiction. Wait, wait, before you give up on this comment, they are so much fun. Fascinating characters that grow and change with the series, tons of adventure, humor and pathos, they are so much fun. I went into them thinking I didn’t like science fiction and ended up obsessively reading the series and now have my son hooked on them as well.
Oh. Thanks so much Jennifer. I will certainly look for those books.
Fredrik Backman is my current favourite contemporary writer. I have enjoyed every one of his books and eagerly await each new title. I also love Alexander McCall Smith. 🙂
Thanks so much. If you like McCall Smith you are a kindred spirit. Will hunt the other author down.
One of my favorite contemporary authors is Matthew Kneale. His novel, The English Passengers is brilliant and I also enjoyed When We Were Romans.
Also, Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel, and Annie Hawes.
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Thanks for those recommendations. Will definitely look out for them.