The 21st century has seen a proliferation of great literature, with numerous novels capturing the attention of readers around the world. Here are some of the best English language novels published since the year 2000.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy – This haunting and beautifully written novel is a bleak, but ultimately uplifting, meditation on love and survival. The Road follows the journey of a father and son as they make their way through a post-apocalyptic America, and it’s a powerful portrayal of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable hardship. This post-apocalyptic novel is a masterpiece of modern American literature and it is a must-read for fans of literary fiction.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – This novel is a moving and hilarious portrait of the life of Oscar de Leon, a science fiction-loving, overweight Dominican-American growing up in New Jersey. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a triumph of voice and storytelling, and it’s a novel that’s sure to stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by MICHAEL CHABON – This novel is a stunningly original take on the comic book genre, blending history, fiction, and high-flying adventure to tell the story of two Jewish comic book creators in mid-20th century America. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a testament to the power of imagination and the resilience of the human spirit.
The Secret River by Kate Grenville – This novel is a powerful and deeply moving exploration of colonial Australia, telling the story of a convicted thief who is sent to the new colony in the early 19th century. The Secret River is a meditation on the nature of identity, belonging, and the consequences of colonialism, and it’s a must-read for fans of historical fiction.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – This award-winning novel is set in India, and it explores the lives of two siblings as they grow up in the shadow of their family’s tragedy. The God of Small Things is a beautiful and poignant exploration of the complexities of family, love, and identity, and it is a true masterpiece of contemporary fiction.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – This novel is a complex and mind-bending journey through time, space, and parallel universes, tracing the lives of six different characters in six different stories. Cloud Atlas is a tour-de-force of contemporary fiction, and it’s a novel that’s sure to challenge and inspire you.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – This dystopian novel is set in an alternate England where human clones are raised for the sole purpose of donating their organs. Never Let Me Go is a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of the meaning of life and the nature of love, and it is a must-read for fans of science fiction and literary fiction.
Atonement by Ian McEwan – This novel is a masterful blend of historical fiction and psychological drama, tracing the events of a single summer in 1935 and the devastating consequences of a young girl’s misunderstanding. Atonement is a powerful exploration of love, loss, and the meaning of truth, and it’s a must-read for fans of contemporary literature.
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst – This novel is a complex and rewarding exploration of love, power, and politics in Britain during the 1980s. The Line of Beauty is a masterful work of fiction, and it’s a must-read for anyone looking to understand the social and cultural landscape of the era.
The Dry by Jane Harper – This novel is a gripping mystery set in the drought-stricken Australian outback, exploring the lives of two characters as they navigate a world of secrets, lies, and betrayal. The Dry is a powerful meditation on the nature of justice, the importance of truth, and the resilience of the human spirit, and it’s a must-read for fans of crime fiction.
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai – This novel is a beautifully written meditation on the legacy of colonialism, exploring the lives of several characters as they navigate the complexities of identity, belonging, and the human condition in post-colonial India and the United States. The Inheritance of Loss is a stunning debut, and it’s a testament to the power of storytelling to bridge cultural divides.
- The Known World by Edward P. Jones – This novel is a breathtaking exploration of slavery, freedom, and the American South, tracing the lives of enslaved and freed people in the antebellum South. The Known World is a powerful and unforgettable novel, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in American history and the human experience.
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith – White Teeth is a tour-de-force of contemporary literature, blending humor, satire, and cultural critique to tell the story of two families – one English, one Bengali – as they navigate the complexities of modern London. This debut novel by Zadie Smith was an instant classic, and it remains one of the most memorable novels of the 21st century.
- The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover – This novel is a tour-de-force of historical fiction, exploring the life of George Orwell as he struggles to complete his masterpiece, 1984, in the face of illness and political turmoil. The Last Man in Europe is a powerful meditation on the power of language, the nature of totalitarianism, and the importance of dissent.
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander – This beautiful memoir is a love letter to the author’s late husband, Ficre Ghebreyesus, and it’s a testament to the power of love and the beauty of life. The Light of the World is a deeply personal and deeply affecting book, and it’s a must-read for anyone looking for inspiration and comfort in difficult times.
- The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips – This novel is a masterful take on the Shakespearean tradition, exploring the life of a man who discovers a long-lost play by the Bard in his attic. The Tragedy of Arthur is a meditation on the power of art, the nature of identity, and the importance of authenticity, and it’s a must-read for fans of literary fiction.
- The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman – This novel is a beautifully written meditation on the nature of love, loss, and the importance of family. The Light Between Oceans is set on a remote lighthouse island off the coast of Western Australia, and it explores the lives of two characters as they navigate the complexities of grief and the human condition.
These are just a few of the many great English language novels that have been published in the 21st century. While we are on the same topic, make sure that you check out OVID’s list of top 10 French novels recently published in English.