As the second decade of the 21st century began, globally, we faced a world previously unknown to us. Our fear for the outcome of the pandemic and our isolation meant we had more time to enjoy fiction.
We reflect on the authors that offered us thrilling distractions and how they have captured audiences with their work. These are the most progressive authors right now; people love them and look forward to their subsequent literary contributions.
Based in Los Angeles, Britt Bennet was born and raised in California. In 2016, Bennet’s debut novel The Mothers was published to much acclaim. Her much anticipated second novel, The Vanishing Half, quickly climbed the New York Times bestseller list in 2020. Bennet’s nonfiction essays include a history of black dolls.
Britt Bennet’s writing is often compared to some of the best American writers. She weaves her magic throughout her books with layered and satisfying narratives, multiple characters as she delves into topics affecting society today. Her ability to contextualize issues in the present concerning the bigoted past gives her a progressive voice.
Her 2017 essay on police brutality, I Don’t Know What to Do with Good White People, attracted attention when it was first published. It came into the spotlight once more following the death of George Floyd. In 2021, Bennet was chosen as one of Time’s Next 100 Influential People.
Just the second Scottish author to win the Booker Prize, Douglas Stuart managed to do this with his debut novel, Shuggie Bain. The Scottish-American author is also a fashion designer but has gained recognition for written works featured in LitHub and The New Yorker.
Even though his first novel is not based on his life, it is heavily influenced by his impoverished upbringing in a home without books. Shuggie Bain has been described as “immersive,” “moving,” and “a gut punch.”
Late in 2020, Stuart announced the completion of his second book, Loch Awe. Book fans are eagerly anticipating the release of what promises to be a gripping novel about toxic masculinity.
Hilary Mantel is not a new kid on the block. The British author is on the list of the most famous living writers today. Born in 1952, Mantel is the first woman to win the Booker Prize twice for Wolf Hall in 2009 and Bring Up the Bodies in 2012. These two books form part of a trilogy, of which the last part was published in 2020.
The eagerly anticipated 900-page read did not take long to reach bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic.
Loved for her prophetic writing embedded in the past, Mantel manages to draw inspiration from a tragic past in this riveting trilogy about Oliver Cromwell. Besides delving into the historical past, Hilary Mantel’s writing includes contemporary works that probe social issues from a bleakly comic perspective. The works of this excellent author continue to be progressive, and her readers can’t wait for more.
Lydia Millet is an American writer born in Boston and raised in Toronto. The acclaimed writer is a Pulitzer Prize and Los Angeles Book Prize finalist. The release of her book A Children’s Bible in 2020 shows the author’s stylistic and writing versatility. In it, she captures the experiences of her protagonists in the apocalyptic tale about how young people are often forced to grow up before their time.
American-born Ayad Akhtar has a Pakistani heritage. The talented playwright, screenwriter, and novelist touch on several themes that win him the acclaim of his readers and audiences. These include identity, religion, immigration, and economics. Akhtar has received the Pulitzer Prize for drama and two Tony Award nominations for Best Play. He has also won an Award in Literature of Arts and Letters.
In his second book, Homeland Elegies, Ayad Akhtar brilliantly exposes the difficulties foreigners face in defining themselves in America.
Laura van den Berg
Grappling with the meaning of life can be traumatic and funny. Once again, Laura van den Berg manages to capture and enthrall her audiences with her latest collection of short stories: I Hold A Wolf.
Born in Florida, Van den Berg is recognized for her literary talent with a string of longlist and shortlist nominations. She is also the winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award.
The Indian-born novelist Megha Majumdar moved to the US to study. She has a Master’s Degree in Anthropology and an exquisite writing style, as seen in her 2020 debut novel A Burning. The book quickly became a New York Times bestseller.
Majumdar’s urgent and well-plotted writing style in this social and political drama caught the literary world’s attention. Her book was shortlisted for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction.