15 Impactful Writers Who Shaped the Literature of the 21st Century

Pile of books
Pile of books / ElenaSchweitzer/Depositphotos.com

Reading is one of those hobbies that will never grow out of fashion. Why? Because we all love a good story. Listening to a good story is great, but nothing beats having the author's words within your reach. Let's take a look at 15 writers who influenced the landscape of the literary world in the 21st century.

Margaret Atwood

We can't bring up iconic writers without talking about Margaret Atwood. This lady's creations have been quoted in numerous works thanks to her command of the English language. Her works might be fiction, but she has a way of bringing contemporary issues into the mix, such as climate change, religion, and gender disparity, without feeling too preachy.

Book Recommendations - Cat's Eye, Alias Grace, The Testaments, and The Handmaid's Tale.

Stan Lee

This man needs no introduction. Stan Lee's responsible for some of the biggest names in the Marvel Universe, such as Spider-Man, X-Men, Thor, Daredevil… and the list goes on. His contributions to the comic world are immense, and we doubt anyone will ever fill his shoes.

Stephen King

Mr. King is one of those authors you'll have to experience at least once in your endeavors. He might be known as the horror god, but his books are much more than that. The layers within the pages will have you wondering what makes him tick.

Book Recommendations - The Shining, The Dark Tower Series, The Outsider, and Carrie.

Dan Brown

Very few authors have their books translated into multi-million blockbusters, but Dan Brown has done it severally. His books are pure fiction, but the backbone is so grounded it's hard to believe it's all made up.

Book Recommendations - Angels and Demons, Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol.

Neil Gaiman

Neil is the man for you if you are a fan of mystical elements packed with adventure. His comics are masterpieces that deserve all the hype. Additionally, Neil dabbles in film and non-fiction work.

Book Recommendations - Coraline, American Gods, The Sandman, Stardust, and Eternals.

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling's work is revered as the pinnacle of fantasy and magic. With sales rivaling the Bible, Ms. Rowling is a cut above the rest.

Book Recommendation - The Harry Potter Series.

John Green

This man named John Green can make a rock cry, and if you don't believe us, just try the recommendations listed below.

Book Recommendations - Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars.

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami built a name for himself by setting his style apart from contemporary Japanese writing. His work gravitates towards postmodernism, realism, magical realism, surrealism, Bildungsroman, and picaresque. If these themes resonate with you, give him a look.

Book Recommendations - Norwegian Wood, Men Without Women, and Kafka on the Shore.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is one of those authors who make you want to make a change. Her books mainly focus on Black Americans, and this has earned her various accolades and awards.

Book Recommendations - Beloved, Sula, Jazz, and Song of Solomon.

Salman Rushdie

Salman is the master of historical fiction, as you'll constantly be forced to look up the details to confirm their authenticity. Additionally, his reverence for the Indian subcontinent makes you appreciate the culture.

Book Recommendations - The Golden House, Shame, Midnight's Children, and The Satanic Verses.

Maya Angelou

Are you a feminist or an activist if you haven't read some of Maya Angelou's work? Her autobiographies are one for the books and trust us when we say you'll need insurance for how many times your jaw drops.

Book Recommendations - I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and On the Pulse of Morning.

Noam Chomsky

Chomsky is the father of modern linguistics; need we say more? Aside from publishing several masterpieces, Noam has contributed some insightful thought pieces to the world.

Book Recommendations - On Palestine, Syntactic, and The Precipice.

Ray Bradbury

Ray has no description. His skill to genre-hop and still feel at home is only surpassed by his world-building.

Book Recommendations - Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho has so many books under his belt that some are usually miscredited. His influence is felt all over the literary world and will continue for years.

Book Recommendations - The Zahir, The Alchemist, and The Pilgrimage.

Harold Pinter

With a Nobel Prize under his belt, we have Harold Pinter, who shaped the narrative for what we know as drama today. His writing style has been termed a 'comedy of menace,' and it's easy to see where this sentiment comes from.

Plays - Betrayal, The Homecoming, The Birthday Party, and more. 


Hopefully, this list is comprehensive enough to tickle your fancy and build your curiosity. If you loved what you saw, feel free to share the list with loved ones as you pick a new piece of literature from one of the recommendations.