14 Modern Fiction Authors Who Are Breaking New Ground

With so many of the same authors dominating the best sellers lists, it can sometimes feel like there's nothing new under the sun. Luckily, there are a lot of innovative writers taking fiction to new and exciting places. This list is dedicated to authors pushing the boundaries of structure and introducing us to underrepresented characters to breathe new life into the art form. If you're also interested in brushing up on the classics, check out this list of the best American literature books. When you click links from this website, we may receive advertising revenue to support our research. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

14 Modern Fiction Authors Who Are Breaking New Ground

Author Notable Works
Haruki Murakami "Norwegian Wood" "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman"
Margaret Atwood "The Handmaid's Tale" "Alias Grace" "MaddAddam"
Shilpi Somaya Gowda "Secret Daughter" "The Golden Son"
John Irving "The World According to Garp" "A Prayer for Owen Meany" "The Cider House Rules"
Jhumpa Lahiri "Interpreter of Maladies" "The Lowland" "Unaccustomed Earth"
Joyce Carol Oates "We Were the Mulvaneys" "The Gravedigger's Daughter" "Lovely, Dark, Deep"
Jennifer Egan "A Visit from the Goon Squad" "Manhattan Beach" "Emerald City"
Elizabeth Strout "Olive Kitteridge" "The Burgess Boys" "My Name Is Lucy Barton"
David Nicholls "One Day" "Us" "A Question of Attraction"
Michael Cunningham "The Hours" "A Home at the End of the World" "By Nightfall"
T.C. Boyle "The Road to Wellville" "The Tortilla Curtain" "A Friend of the Earth"
Tom Perrotta "Election" "The Leftovers" "Little Children"
Aimee Bender "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt" "An Invisible Sign of My Own" "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake"
Joseph Boyden "Three Day Road" "Through Black Spruce" "The Orenda"

Margaret Atwood on "The Handmaid's Tale"

In Depth

The average airport bookstore has plenty of thrillers and detective novels, but some of us want something with a little more depth. This list is dedicated to those writers who are pushing the boundaries of language, plot, and style, while bringing us characters whose voices need to be heard. In no particular order, here are 14 authors of modern fiction who are sure to be studied for generations to come.

Starting us off is Haruki Murakami. This Japanese author's eclectic body of work covers everything from personal reflections like the novel "Norwegian Wood" to the short story collection "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman," which features magical realism and colloquial myth-making. His work is a great window into Japanese culture and the modern issues facing the country.

You may be familiar with Margaret Atwood as the author of "The Handmaid's Tale." But she's also written more than forty books, including not just fiction, but poetry, nonfiction, and children's books. Though often referred to as a "Feminist writer," Atwood refuses to be pigeonholed, instead keeping her readers guessing by exploring different genres and never shying away from tackling contemporary issues in her work.

But she's also written more than forty books, including not just fiction, but poetry, nonfiction, and children's books.

Another Canadian writer, Shilpi Somaya Gowda has been published in more than 30 countries thanks to the depth and scope of her work. Her first novel, "Secret Daughter," is a globe-spanning tale that connects two women from vastly different cultures because of their love for the same little girl. Her work uses the bonds of family to tell expansive stories that are powerful yet tender.

John Irving became a household name due to the film adaptations of his novels like "The World According to Garp," "A Prayer For Owen Meany," and "The Cider House Rules," and he's been producing novels for more than 50 years. His memorable characters and life-spanning narratives have earned him a permanent place in the annals of American literature.

Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Hemingway Award for her first short story collection, "Interpreter of Maladies." Her writing often deals with the children of immigrants, and the cultural changes that put them in conflict with the traditions of their families. Her novel "The Lowland" covers generations as her characters' struggle transcends their circumstances and reveals a complexity that deserves a close read.

Her writing often deals with the children of immigrants, and the cultural changes that put them in conflict with the traditions of their families.

Few writers produce at the level of Joyce Carol Oates, who has written more than 40 novels and numerous short story collections, all done in longhand. A National Book Award winner, her fiction is intense and visceral, and never fails to leave a lasting impression.

Jennifer Egan's work runs the gamut from historical fiction like "Manhattan Beach" to the fractured modern narrative of "A Visit From The Goon Squad." The one thing all her books share is a deep insight into her character's thoughts as they strive to overcome their pasts and find something meaningful beyond themselves.

Small-town Maine is a recurring setting for Elizabeth Strout, who won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for "Olive Kitteridge," a novel-in-stories that centers on the town of Crosby. The title character in "My Name Is Lucy Barton" proved a fascinating subject that was revisited in "Anything is Possible," as Strout continues to expand both the scope of her stories and her willingness to take on characters with flaws and work to understand them.

David Nicholls became well-known for the humorous coming of age tale "A Question of Attraction," later released in America and adapted to film as "Starter for Ten." With "One Day," he examined a relationship through a single day over the course of 20 years. With "Us," his lively prose manages to inspire laughter while bringing the reader closer to his characters as he stays with them through the changes that come with age.

You may know Michael Cunningham's name from the Oscar-winning film adaptation of "The Hours." The novel is a classic that weaves three story lines built around Virginia Woolf and "Mrs. Dalloway." Cunningham's books about the complexity of relationships are at once modern and traditional, deftly exposing his characters' innermost desires and the tragedy of the things we don't dare speak out loud.

A prolific writer of both novels and short stories, T.C. Boyle has used true-life tales as a jumping off point for his imaginative fiction in works like "The Road To Wellville" and "The Women." He employs his confident prose to tackle issues like immigration in "The Tortilla Curtain" and the plight of our environment in "A Friend of the Earth," adding a necessary human compassion to concerns often relegated to dry policy debates.

Tom Perrotta first rose to notoriety with his dark satires of suburban American life in books like "Election" and "Little Children," both of which were adapted into critically-acclaimed films. In "The Leftovers," a supernatural rapture event provides a unique forum for his uncanny ability to explore the motivations of good people who do bad things.

Aimee Bender burst onto the literary scene with "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt," a short story collection full of surreal imagery and dark fables. She's continued letting her imagination run wild with novels like "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake," in which a magical event reveals the dark truth of a family's ordinary life.

And finally, we have Joseph Boyden, whose first novel, "Three Day Road," covers the period after World War I and the conflict among the First Nations of Canada over assimilation and whether to embrace European beliefs or fight to hold onto their traditions. Like many writers on our list, his work has an immediacy and necessity to it, but the beauty of his prose will make it live on. The one thing these authors share is a commitment to their craft, which is why they are sure to influence younger writers in the years to come.