The guest bloggers for FSB’s Love of Reading Online Bookfair were given a list of suggested topics, and I picked this one:
"What current authors do you believe will come to be added to the canon of great literary voices in the future?"
I went ahead and re-defined that “canon of great literary voices” bit in more Wordcandy-friendly terms—the following list consists of five outstanding pop fiction writers whose books, by rights, should still be around in a hundred years:
Lisa Kleypas is the author of nearly two dozen excellent historical romance novels. Her books are always smart, steamy, painstakingly researched, and infinitely superior to the countless cheeseball bodice-rippers cluttering up bookstore shelves.
Diana Wynne Jones has been producing inventive, gleefully bizarre children’s fantasy since 1970. Her novels include Howl’s Moving Castle (the inspiration for the Hayao Miyzaki film of the same name) and the award-winning parody Dark Lord of Derkholm. Ms. Jones’s books have never achieved J.K. Rowling-esque levels of fame, but they’ve won her a devoted readership.
Jeff Smith’s comic book series Bone ran for over 12 years, evolving from a goofy adventure story into a full-blown fantasy epic. The complete story—all 1,300-plus pages!—was collected in one action-packed (and surprisingly affordable) volume: 2004’s Bone: One Volume Edition.
Contemporary romance novelist Jennifer Crusie writes sharp, witty, acerbic novels. Some of her stuff can get a shade bitter (and she needs to stop wasting her time with pointless collaborations), but her best book, 2005’s Bet Me, is the romance novel equivalent of The Princess Bride—brilliantly funny and insanely charming.
Yayoi Ogawa is the author of the fourteen-volume-long manga series Tramps Like Us. Ogawa’s heroine is a beautiful, socially awkward journalist named Sumire, whose shyness is frequently mistaken for coldness. Lonely and miserable, Sumire impulsively offers to let a homeless young man move in with her—on one condition: she’ll treat him exactly like an overgrown house pet. He agrees, and their strange, codependent relationship develops into an unexpectedly moving love story.
None of these authors are perfect—Kleypas and Ogawa’s books frequently feature embarrassingly tawdry cover art, Crusie keeps getting distracted by ill-conceived collaborative projects, Jones’s disinterest in conventional plot development can make her stories difficult to follow, and Smith seems to have dropped off the face of the earth—but they’re all tremendously entertaining. If the literary world ever stops despising books that are actually, y’know, fun, these writers will one day be celebrated as some of the early twenty-first century's greatest producers of Grade-A popular fiction.