In this curated list, you will find a diverse range of authors hailing from different backgrounds and exploring a wide array of themes. Whether you’re a fan of literary fiction, mystery, science fiction, or poetry, there’s something for everyone to discover within these pages. While some of these authors have already garnered critical acclaim and accolades, others are still on the cusp of wider recognition. However, what they all have in common is a passion for storytelling, a unique voice, and an unwavering dedication to their craft. Without further delay, let’s dive into our selection of 10 Rising Authors to Add to Your Reading List in 2023.
10 Rising Authors to Add to Your Reading List in 2023
Akwaeke Emezi is a non-binary Nigerian author whose work has garnered critical acclaim and sparked important conversations about identity, gender, and cultural intersections. Born in Umuahia, Nigeria, in 1987, Emezi was raised in a family that valued storytelling, and this early exposure to the power of narratives greatly influenced their future as a writer.
Emezi’s journey as an author began with their debut novel, “Freshwater,” published in 2018. This groundbreaking work received widespread praise for its exploration of multiple identities and its bold narrative structure. “Freshwater” tells the story of Ada, a young Nigerian woman who embodies both human and ogbanje spirits. Through Ada’s perspective, Emezi delves into themes of trauma, mental health, and the complexities of selfhood.
Born in 1990 (Southern California), Bennett grew up in a predominantly white community in Oceanside. Her experiences of navigating racial identity and the complexities of race relations in America greatly influence her writing.
Bennett earned her undergraduate degree in English from Stanford University and later pursued an MFA in Fiction at the University of Michigan, where she developed her literary skills and honed her craft. While still a student, she gained recognition for her exceptional talent, receiving the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers for her short story, “Smallest Areola.”
In 2016, Bennett published her debut novel, “The Mothers,” which became a significant literary sensation. Set in a black community in Southern California, the novel explores themes of motherhood, friendship, love, and the weight of secrets. The novel received critical acclaim for its powerful prose and Bennett’s ability to capture the complexities of human relationships.
Sally Rooney is a contemporary Irish author known for her insightful and compelling storytelling. Born on February 20, 1991, in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, Rooney developed a passion for literature at a young age. She studied English and American Literature at Trinity College Dublin, where she honed her writing skills and began to explore themes of love, relationships, and societal dynamics.
Rooney gained widespread recognition with the publication of her debut novel, “Conversations with Friends,” in 2017. The book follows the lives of Frances and Bobbi, two college students and best friends, as they navigate complex relationships with older couple Melissa and Nick.
It was Rooney’s second novel, “Normal People,” published in 2018, that propelled her to international fame. The book tells the story of Marianne and Connell, two Irish teenagers from different social backgrounds who develop a deep connection that continues to shape their lives as they journey through university and beyond.
Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Kiley Reid developed a passion for writing at a young age. She went on to pursue her studies at the University of Arizona, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in fine arts (MFA) in creative writing. During her time in academia, Reid honed her craft and began to delve into the themes that would later define her work.
Reid’s most prominent and widely acclaimed novel to date is “Such a Fun Age,” published in 2019. The novel garnered immediate attention and became a bestseller, receiving widespread critical acclaim and numerous accolades. “Such a Fun Age” tells the story of Emira Tucker, a young Black woman who works as a babysitter for a wealthy white family. When Emira is unjustly accused of kidnapping while watching the family’s child at a local grocery store, the incident sets in motion a series of events that unravel the complexities of race, privilege, and power dynamics.
Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese-American poet, essayist, and novelist whose literary contributions have captivated readers with their lyrical beauty and emotional depth. Born on October 14, 1988, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Vuong and his family immigrated to the United States when he was just two years old, settling in Hartford, Connecticut.
Growing up in a working-class family, Vuong developed a passion for writing at a young age, finding solace and a means of self-expression through the written word. Despite the challenges he faced as a first-generation immigrant, Vuong’s talent and dedication led him to pursue his education, eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Brooklyn College.
It was his debut full-length collection, “Night Sky with Exit Wounds,” published in 2016, that propelled him into the literary spotlight. This critically acclaimed work delves into themes of love, loss, identity, and the intergenerational trauma experienced by Vietnamese refugees.
“Night Sky with Exit Wounds” received numerous accolades, including the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. It was also a finalist for the National Book Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Vuong’s remarkable ability to convey complex emotions through evocative imagery and poignant language solidified his reputation as a powerful voice in contemporary poetry.
Born in 1993, Houston, Texas, She “Bryan Washington” grew up in the city’s diverse neighborhoods. Washington’s background as a biracial gay man heavily influences his writing, as he often delves into issues of identity, race, sexuality, and class.
Washington graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. During his studies, he honed his craft and developed a unique narrative voice that blends literary techniques with an unflinching realism.
In 2019, Washington burst onto the literary scene with his debut collection of short stories, “Lot.” The book garnered critical acclaim and received several awards, including the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Dylan Thomas Prize.
One of Washington’s most prominent works is his novel “Memorial,” published in 2020. The book tells the story of Mike and Benson, a young gay couple navigating their relationship against the backdrop of family, cultural differences, and personal growth.
Souvankham Thammavongsa is a Canadian writer of Lao descent who has garnered critical acclaim for her poignant and evocative writing. Born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, in 1978, Thammavongsa and her family later immigrated to Canada when she was a child. Growing up in Toronto, she developed a deep appreciation for storytelling and literature, which ultimately led her to pursue a career as a writer.
Thammavongsa’s writing is characterized by its spare yet powerful prose, exploring themes of identity, displacement, and the immigrant experience. She often focuses on the lives of ordinary individuals and the struggles they face, illuminating their stories with empathy and sensitivity. Her work delves into the complexities of human relationships and the resilience of individuals navigating challenging circumstances.
Thammavongsa’s most prominent work to date is her critically acclaimed collection of short stories titled “How to Pronounce Knife,” published in 2020. The book garnered widespread praise and received several accolades, including the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards.
Born and Raised in a Bronx household teeming with artistic talent before her family relocated to a suburban area near Albany, New York. Growing up, Leilani was a Seventh-day Adventist, but eventually left the church. Initially, she attended an art high school with aspirations of becoming a visual artist. However, she pursued a different path and graduated from Marist College in 2012, where she studied English and psychology.
Leilani held various jobs before establishing herself as a writer. She worked as an imaging specialist at Ancestry.com and as an archivist at Macmillan. Additionally, she had stints at a scientific journal, the US Department of Defense, and even worked as a delivery person for Postmates in Washington, D.C.
In 2017, Leilani embarked on her MFA journey at New York University, studying under the guidance of acclaimed writers Zadie Smith, Katie Kitamura, and Jonathan Safran Foer. Currently residing in Brooklyn, Leilani has made a significant impact in the literary world with her debut novel, “Luster,” and continues to be an influential voice in contemporary literature.
Yaa Gyasi is a talented Ghanaian-American author known for her thought-provoking novels exploring the African diaspora and the complexities of identity. Born in 1989 in Mampong, Ghana, Gyasi moved to the United States with her family at the age of two and grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. Her unique perspective as an immigrant and her rich cultural background have greatly influenced her writing.
Gyasi’s literary journey began at Stanford University, where she pursued a degree in English and graduated with honors. During her time at Stanford, she developed a passion for storytelling and delved into the exploration of historical narratives and their impact on present-day lives. This fascination with history, coupled with her desire to shed light on the African diaspora, became the driving force behind her debut novel, “Homegoing.”
Published in 2016, “Homegoing” quickly gained critical acclaim and established Gyasi as a formidable literary voice. The novel spans generations and continents, tracing the lineage of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who are separated at birth in 18th-century Ghana. Through their descendants, Gyasi vividly depicts the legacy of slavery and colonialism in both Ghana and the United States.
Born in 1976 in Los Angeles, California, Charles Yu grew up in a Taiwanese immigrant family and often drew inspiration from his own experiences as a second-generation Asian-American.
Yu’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School. Initially pursuing a career in law, Yu eventually decided to follow his passion for writing and storytelling.
His most prominent work to date is the novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,” published in 2010. This novel, which blends elements of science fiction, metafiction, and existentialism, tells the story of a time machine repairman named Charles Yu who navigates a fictional universe while also grappling with his own personal struggles and the complexities of family relationships.
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