Our Informal List of “Greatest” Living Female Writers

Nadine Gordimer:  on my list of best living writers.

Nadine Gordimer, one of the greatest living writers.

Abebooks’ Reading Copy blog recently posted an odd list of “75 Greatest Living  Female Writers,” who were selected and voted on by its customers and readers.  J. K. Rowling comes in at the top, followed by some remarkable literary writers, some good pop writers, and many much less wonderful writers of all genres.

Perhaps we can come up with our own informal list.  Clare, Karen, and I have already expressed our annoyance with the Abebooks list.

So in no particular order here are my suggestions for Greatest Living Female Writers.  Please leave your suggestions in comments.

Nadine Gordimer

Louise Erdrich

Jayne Anne Phillips

Margaret Drabble

Joyce Carol Oates

Maxine Hong Kingston

Jane Gardam

Marilynne Robinson

Linda Hogan

9 thoughts on “Our Informal List of “Greatest” Living Female Writers

  1. Ellen, I love your list, but, like me, you know your “dead” writers. Who among the living are truly great? Many of my favorite writers have died in the past year: Doris Lessing, Ruth Prawer Jhabala. It’s time for me to read some new wrtiers.

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  2. 😦 All my favourites are dead too, mainly – though I rate Margaret Atwood up there with the gods, and I’m quite partial to Joan Didion too, and Joyce Johnson. I’m struggling here…. (I hadn’t realised quite how many writers I would have put on this list are no longer with us!)

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  3. I certainly approve of all the writers you’ve suggested! What bothers me is that I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been writing for decades. I don’t keep up with contemporary literature anymore, and it shows. I’m thinking of award winners, like Tea Obreht and A. M. Homes, and though they’re good, are they great?

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  4. Zadie Smith is a good writer but I agree with Ellen, she’s overrated. She has books with “quotable phrases” sprinkled all over but she’s more like the romantic version of the writer: beautiful, intelligent, British.
    I can’t believe Anita Brookner didn’t make Abebook’s list. Yet I’m happy anyway because nobody knows her, nobody reads her, she’s mine!

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