My Top Three Five Living Authors
I’ve made this list before and in that post I stated that this was an ice-breaker a particular professor used to not only have us introduce ourselves but also to subtly jab at any of us English majors who quite possibly dealt to long in old texts and authors while rarely visiting newer ones. About three years ago I posted my original list years after the one I did for the aforementioned class because most of those authors had died. Well, I decided to do it again because, well, tastes change. So here’s the old list first.
1) Haruki Murakami
2) Audrey Niffenegger
3) Neil Gaimen
4) Malcolm Gladwell
5) Jonathon Safran Foer
Why a new one then if all of these guys still seem good? Well, first of all, I haven’t read much from any of them in the interim. Murakami’s books aren’t translated nearly as fast into English as they are into other languages (ie. Korean.) Beyond that, his flavor of writing has gotten a bit repetitive. He’s good at what he does…and it’s always expected, I guess.
For Audrey, she hasn’t published anything big lately, and that goes the same for Gaimen. Even more so, with a lack of new reads that seem interesting, I’ve delved into Gaimen’s old books and grown a little bit sour with him. He’s very hit or miss…and lately it’s felt like a lot of misses.
Then the same can be said about Gladwell. I’ve enjoyed his podcasts, but found little in books as of late. For Foer, he just came out with Here I Am, and yet it fell flat in my opinion. I liked it, but it wasn’t nearly as powerful or creative as his old stuff.
Therefore, it looks like my list has shifted. On top of that, I’ve read much, much more in the past three years, especially in more contemporary authors. So who’s my new top 5 living authors?
5) Chimamanda Adichie
Currently, I’ve only read two of her books—We Should All Be Feminists and Americanah—but I enjoyed the unique perspective and the amazing use of words. In Americanah, despite certain readers being appalled or offended by it, I had to agree with the author who said it was meant to be funny. I laughed at many parts—especially when America came off looking odd or out of the loop—granted, that’s not hard nowadays. Still, I won’t mind picking up something else by her.
4) Rainbow Rowell
My first journey done by Rowell was her impeccable Eleanor and Park. She pinned down first love and all its craziness masterfully. The little twist in the end wasn’t even really needed. It just stood out by itself. Then I ventured into Fan Girl, and loved all the light story-telling, mixed with a real conundrum of whether or not fan fiction is copying or not—especially since the stories are original. And I think that’s why I find her so appealing. It’s light and bubble-gummy, but not inane. She never talks down or pares off key elements to a character. Everyone feels real—and it’s fun.
3) Ryu Murakami
I’ve read two of this Japanese authors books now—69 and In the Miso Soup. Both were addictive and fast reads, not to mention somewhat on the short side. Nonetheless, the latter was really hard-hitting, if not hard to read when you get to the brutal murder part. However, I liked a lot of his social commentary and the overall flow and feel of his writing. I will definitely be checking out more by him, although his Coin Babies book appears to be one of the most difficult reads due to violence. But that won’t deter me.
2) Khaled Hosseini
From Kite Runner, to A Thousand Splendid Suns, to And The Mountains Echoed, I’ve enjoyed seeing this author mature and grow in scope. Foer was on my list before, and in a way this author reminds me a lot of him. He hit big with his first book, then sank a little with the next, but where Foer still gave us middling fare, from Hosseini, I felt his third book was more dynamic and challenging. Many hated it, especially the way it subverted the normal mode of story telling, but I think he’s just growing into his own. Can’t wait to see where he goes next.
1) Keiko Higashino
This is the most surprising to me. Over a year and a half ago, I had never even heard of this guy. Now, he’s practically the only author I’m excited to read. I’ve read five to six of his books so far, with one on the shelf because I don’t want to rush it because his newest one isn’t translated until next October. Sadly, they can’t do it fast enough. Even worse, he’s got loads of these books in Japanese—stacks of them—but no one in the English-reading world is really latching onto them. In a way, he’s like Murakami. Now I just hope he gets some international fame soon.