The phrase "Brit Lit" may give you nightmare flashbacks of your less-than-favorite English classes back in school, but I happen to know that you love most things British anyway. How? Because you waited to watch Kate and Will step out of the hospital doors with the future king of England. And you might have stayed up to watch the royal wedding back in 2011, too. Because you still have all your old Beatles albums, and you're eagerly anticipating the next "Downton Abbey" series on PBS. Or maybe the 100th reincarnation of "Doctor Who." (Okay, maybe it's just the 12th).
Believe it or not, a lot of 21st-century British fiction is just as entertaining. Whatever angle your Anglophilia takes - whatever fiction genre you think is the bees knees - there's a writer out there I bet you'd think is jolly good and smashing, too. Gen up on some of these authors (profiles from NoveList):
- Kate Atkinson (Crime/Suspense)
With her elegant prose and superb storytelling skills, Kate Atkinson appeals both to fans of Literary Fiction and to fans of genre fiction; murdered bodies, fairies, time travelers, and private investigators have appeared in her various novels and short stories. In each book eccentric characters dance through a host of complicated storylines, which converge in a masterful act of plotting that even the most attentive readers cannot anticipate. Occasional violence and dark themes are leavened by frequent dashes of subtle humor. Start with: Case Histories.
- Jasper Fforde (Fantasy)
Jasper Fforde draws from many genres -- detective novels, Mysteries, Police Procedurals, Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, Literary Classics. Tongue-in-cheek language, witty dialogue, and constant literary references strike a lighthearted -- but not empty-headed -- tone. Characters are likable and quirky. Satire combines with jocularity: corporate group-think and reading's decline are targets in his popular Thursday Next series; one's ability to see the color spectrum governs social mobility in his more recent Shades of Grey series. Fforde excels, however, at laugh-aloud improbable situations in all his works. Start with: The Eyre Affair.
- Ian McEwan (Literary)
Ian McEwan's books are haunting, eloquent, precise investigations of how discrete events loom large in the human psyche. His novels are suspenseful and feature subjects of contemporary relevance, often with political undertones, that readers reflect on long after finishing. McEwan's topics are varied and creative, but his stories often involve a sudden event that turns the direction of an ordinary life, forcing the intelligent and reflective character to cope. McEwan also uses disturbing violence to expose the moment when a character's nature is stripped to the bone. Start with: Saturday.
- David Mitchell (Literary)
English author David Mitchell writes complex novels with an epic scale, employing unusual narrative technique, blends of genres, and characters with shifting identities. His eight years' sojourn in Hiroshima, Japan, and his travels through Asia have influenced his choice of subjects and settings: his canvas is rarely England itself. His primary characters are compelling and realistic; their dilemmas matter to the reader. The stories have a strong sense of place, and though they take place in clearly fictional worlds, the landscapes, historical contexts, and social and technological components are recognizable to contemporary readers. Start with: Cloud Atlas.
- Sarah Waters (Historical/LGBTQ)
In her acclaimed historical novels, Sarah Waters maps the many different facets of the female character. Whether she's writing literary Victorian suspense or a multifaceted saga of postwar angst, her twisting and unpredictable plots, all deeply saturated in the mood and atmosphere of her chosen periods, are told in elegant language. Her protagonists are so-called ordinary people caught up in intense personal relationships and frequently subversive social dramas; common elements to her fiction include class and gender issues, spiritualism, and sexuality. All but The Little Stranger explore gay and lesbian themes. Start with: Fingersmith.