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6rant6's avatar

Who is a good "literary" writer?

Asked by 6rant6 (13692points) May 20th, 2011

What modern “literary” writers do you recommend?

By literary, I mean writers whose prose is in and of itself enjoyable even without (or on top of) a great story.

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22 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

How modern is modern? Still actively publishing today? or still living? or twentieth century? or . . . ?

Rarebear's avatar

Jane Austin.

drdoombot's avatar

Well, I probably wouldn’t consider Anne Rice to be “literary,” and yet I find her prose to be well-crafted and delightfully sensual.

She’s the first one that comes to mind because prose is actually something that flies under my radar with modern authors; I only seem to pick up on really great prose in older books. Either authors aren’t spending as much time crafting the words on the page or I’m just not reading enough modern authors.

6rant6's avatar

Yeah, alive and kicking is what I’m looking for.

iamthemob's avatar

Don Delillo. Paul Auster. Denis Johnson.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Paul Theroux

Luiveton's avatar

Hahah I am. B)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Thomas Pynchon

mazingerz88's avatar

Somerset Maugham would have been a great choice. I would have to reanimate him though to meet your alive and kicking criteria. Back to my lab in the basement!

anartist's avatar

Who more than F Scott Fitzgerald? Great Gatsby.20s
Later zeitgeist? John Barth Floating Opera and End of the Road 60s
Later? Jay McInerney. Bright Lights, Big City. 80s
Later? Taking suggestions from others . . .

anartist's avatar

Oh, don’t forget Robertson Davies trilogies—Deptford 70s and Cornish 80s
Myth, Jungian perspective, Magicians, gypsies—the richness of the characters, plots and language are hard to describe
[a friend of mine was a graduate student of his and he wrote a short story about him—still trying to track it down]

or Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet 50s-60s
4 books—4 points of view
young, beautiful expats in Alexandria Egypt with agendas share a series of events

dxs's avatar

Not me

Stinley's avatar

Ian McEwen – nothing much happens but his books are beautifully written. I also like Kazuo Ishiguro who wrote Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m not sure I would call Kate Atkinson literary—but maybe I’m just being a snob because the stories are good, and there’s a feeling that a story that has plenty of popular appeal can’t truly be literary. I’ve read the three Jackson Brodie novels and have preordered the fourth. I thoroughly enjoy her writing in itself, rich with unsparing internal glimpses that sound as candid as unfiltered private thoughts in the characters’ minds (a trait I admire in George Eliot, too, having just freshly finished The Mill on the Floss, wondering, as I did so, how many people are left who can and will read Eliot for pleasure).

Andrea Barrett and Tobias Wolff are two contemporary writers whom I would call literary. They also tell good stories.

Stinley's avatar

@Jeruba There’s a fourth Jackson Brodie? Great, I love her books, especially the Jackson Brodie ones

I just finished re-reading The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) which was an amazingly written perfect book

Hacksawhawk's avatar

Living: Gabriel García Márquez, Milan Kundera, Umberto Eco, Jonathan Safran Foer, Günter Grass, ...
Deceased (yet still modern): J.L. Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, Jose Saramago.

Doesn’t always have to be English right?

6rant6's avatar


Nabokov died 1977
Jose Saramago died last year.

If you can’t tell the living from the dead, I’m hesitant to believe you can tell the good from the bad. Also, if they don’t write in English, they are of no use to me.

augustlan's avatar

@6rant6 He mentioned they were deceased, so I’m not sure why you think he can’t tell the difference between living and dead.

6rant6's avatar

@augustlan Yes, apparently I can’t even read English.

Hacksawhawk's avatar

@6rant6 May I also be so bold to ask you why foreigners are inadequate to you?

6rant6's avatar

@Hacksawhawk “Inadequate” is a pretty hostile characterization. I just said, they are of no use to me. I don’t care if they’re foreign. I care if they write in English, since I write in English and I am interested in comparing their writing style to mine.

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