7 Female Fiction Authors Whose Books Break Social Barriers

Fiction stories are most impactful when they expand our horizons by breaking down social barriers, stereotypes, and stigmas. Here are seven boundless female storytellers.

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Fiction is at its most powerful when it provides not only an immersive escape for readers but keenly examines social barriers and how to move beyond them. As the broadest of literary genres, fiction is made for diverse storytelling. Lucky for us readers, there are endless unique stories to explore — from romance to historical fiction, mystery, and sci-fi. All of which have something distinct to offer us.

At the end of the day, we read fiction to move beyond social confines and learn more about the depth of the human experience. These seven remarkable female authors are a must-read as their books are boundless, stirring, and insightful.

Jodi Picoult

Fiction Author Jodi Picoult Headshot
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Jodi Picoult is, for many, a household name and a staple on anyone’s bookshelf. Her long list of bestsellers examines social problems and moral dilemmas with a keen eye and complex characters. The most recent in her storytelling streak is a collaboration piece called Mad Honey — a suspenseful multi-narrative read that meditates on love, identity, and secrets. Broadly, Picoult’s fiction has long served to generate social conversation about critical issues in a way that reveals the complexity of the human experience.

Barbara Sontheimer

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Debut author Barbara Sontheimer makes a splash with Victor’s Blessing — a historical romance turned family saga that spotlights a diverse Missouri community leading up to the Civil War. Sontheimer breaks barriers in a traditionally one-dimensional genre, giving readers multicultural representation with a supernatural twist. At the heart of a diverse cast is Victor, the son of an Osage slave, whose journey of love and loss provides intricate insight into everyday life in 19th-century America. Read more, here, about how Victor’s Blessing expands the historical romance genre.

Tayari Jones

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Author Tayari Jones won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2019 for her soul-stirring novel, An American Marriage. Moving within the subgenre of domestic fiction, Jones explores the reality of America’s flawed criminal justice system and the toll of its injustices. Her intensive character study of a newlywed couple whose lives are upended by unforeseen circumstances leaves readers with a complex and messy picture of love and marriage that transcends facile categorization.

Anita Shreve

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The late Anita Shreve, well-renowned for her 1997 novel, The Weight of Water, spent her literary career writing sprawling stories with complex characters. Inspired by the real-life Smuttynose Island murders of 1873, The Weight of Water is a mystery tale thoroughly suffused with emotion. Her ability to weave together heavy themes (jealousy, rage, despair) into lyrical narrative cements her as a masterful storyteller who captures the tensions and extremes of the human condition.

Fatima Farheen Mirza

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Mirza’s debut novel, A Place For Us, beautifully breaks barriers by inviting readers into the complex lives of an Indian-American Muslim family in California. From an estranged son’s long-awaited return home to the passing of one’s cultural identity and heritage to the next generation, Mirza’s storytelling is resonant and multi-faceted. Her eloquent exploration of identity, belonging, betrayal, and more, creates an engaging portrait of what it means to be a modern American family.

Jung Yun

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Jung Yun’s two bestsellers, Shelter and O Beautiful, are character-driven and provide searing insight into the tumultuous social climate of modern America. O Beautiful, her newest release, follows Elinor, a struggling writer tasked with returning to her North Dakota hometown to cover the oil boom. The town is now overrun with a predominately male population of oil workers, which procures a sincere examination of the male gaze, power, and privilege in a nuanced contemporary snapshot sure to capture readers’ minds and hearts.

Beverly Jenkins

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Beverly Jenkins saw a glaring absence of diversity in historical and contemporary romance fiction and decided to lead the charge on multicultural love stories. Her first book, Night Song, was published in 1994. Ever since, she’s written multiple successful romance series, specializing in 19th-century African-American history. Taking women’s fiction to new heights with over thirty novels to date, Beverly Jenkins is a perfect pick to round out our list of boundless storytellers.

Read more about female voices in literature, here.