Women have a lot to say — or write. Contemporary fiction is currently filled to the brim with smart and savvy female authors blowing readers away with their debuts. If these authors aren’t on your shelf already, go ahead and assume that they will be by the time you reach the end of this list. Here are a few incredible modern storytellers that you need to know.
1. Sally Rooney
If you haven’t heard the name, Sally Rooney, you may have seen one of novels — Conversations with Friends or Normal People — on Instagram, where they have become quite the staple for ‘bookstagram’ users. Meanwhile, she is also receiving rave reviews from critics and winning awards for her works, including the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year. With both readers and critics commending this 28-year-old’s two recent novels, you be wondering if she is overhyped — reader, she is not. Rooney’s writing is quiet, yet striking. It’s relatable, yet challenging. Her novels about the everyday lives of young, smart people are slow burners, while also somehow being page turners. Rooney is worth every bit of the hype, pick up one of her books already.
2. Elif Batuman
Image Via Amazon
Another highly praised writer, Batuman is the author of debut novel, The Idiot, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 2018. The Idiot follows Harvard freshman Selin in her first year, during which she meets and begins an email correspondence with an older student, Ivan. It is captivating to experience Selin struggle to work out her feelings for Ivan in conjunction to adjusting to adult life. Batuman’s characters are radiantly real — flawed and often naive, but compelling and visceral all the same. Batuman also has a collection of essays entitled The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.
3. Candice Carty-Williams
Image Via Amazon
The titular protagonist of Carty-Williams’ debut novel, Queenie, is one of those characters that you desperately want to be friends with. Tired of not seeing herself depicted in contemporary media and fiction, Carty-Williams molded the character of Queenie, a Jamaican British woman living in London, struggling with her job, her relationships. Not only does Carty-Williams expertly convey the personal and intimate, but tackles the larger scale societalissues that affect individuals. From fetishization within interracial dating to gentrification, Queenie experiences it all — as does the reader.
4. R.O. Kwon
Image Via Amazon
The Washington Post claims that Kwon “doesn’t make it easy to get her debut out of your system.” The debut in question, The Incendiaries, follows two college freshmen, one of whom becomes involved with an extremist religious cult tied to North Korea. With an unconventional structure — told via a stream-of-consciousness-like regaining of memories — Kwon pulls the reader in by keeping them at bay. Yet, even with the method of distancing, readers are able to connect deeply with the characters and their actions. It’s a contradicting experience of a novel well worth diving into.
5. Kristen Roupenian
The author of “Cat Person” has written more than just “Cat Person.” Roupenian quickly rose to fame in late 2017 when her short story, “Cat Person,” was published in The New Yorker and quickly became the second most read story of the year on the popular site, despite being published in the December issue. After receiving a $1.2 million advance for a collection of short stories, she published You Know You Want This early this year. The result is a group of smart and fascinatingly dark short stories. These stories are not “Cat Person” from different angles, but rather a group of versatile and sharply contrasted pieces showcasing Roupenian’s abilities. And yet, the keen observation and sharp prose of “Cat Person” are consistently present. Readers are able to get just as lost in each of these worlds as millions of readers did with Margot and her cat person date, Robert.