Up-and-Coming Female Authors
Female authors are taking the literary world by storm in 2023
Written by Emma Smallwood
Women have been changing the literary game for years — like seriously, for thousands of years. Over one thousand years ago, Murasaki Shikibu wrote “The Tale of Genji,” which is considered to be the world’s first novel. Jane Austen’s iconic novels of the 19th century set the stage for literary realism, and Mary Shelley is recognized as one of the founders of the science fiction genre. Gertrude Stein’s powerful novels defied the social standards and views on femininity of her time period, and Virginia Woolf challenged and expanded the literary modernism movement in the early 20th century. Women have been advancing the novel for as long as books have been around, and they’re not stopping anytime soon. Check out this list of up-and-coming female authors who are following in the footsteps of thousands of women before them, creating groundbreaking, revolutionary works of art.
Women have been advancing the novel for as long as books have been around, and they’re not stopping anytime soon.
R.F. Kuang released her debut novel, “The Poppy War,” in 2018. This historical high fantasy novel immediately gained traction for its intricate world-building, complex cast of characters and haunting depictions of real-life events. “The Poppy War” is partially based on the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the story itself is filled with Chinese and Asian influences, giving this grimdark fantasy novel a root in realism. In the years following the release of “The Poppy War,” Kuang published the following two novels in this trilogy, which both received immense accolades. In 2022, Kuang released the thrilling standalone “Babel, or the Necessity of Violence,” a scathing criticism of British imperialism and capitalism in the form of a brilliant fantasy story. Kuang’s next book, “Yellowface,” is set to release in 2023, and critics and readers alike cannot wait to see what this new coming author has in store. In the past five years alone, Kuang has left an immense and long-lasting impact on the fantasy world, and fans of fantasy should follow her work to see what inventive novels she will produce next.
Charmaine Wilkerson has only released one novel to date, but it has made a mark on the literary world. Among some of its marks of honor is that it is a New York Times best seller, Barack Obama included the novel in his top books of 2022, and it is currently being made into a Hulu Original TV show. For those who enjoy realistic fiction or mystery, “Black Cake” should be immediately put on your to-read list. The novel follows a pair of estranged siblings as they struggle to piece their lives and their family’s history back together, after their recently deceased mother leaves them a traditional Jamaican black cake and a life-altering voice recording. This novel tackles a range of social issues, but at its core, it is a novel about culture, family and history. This character-driven novel is an exploration (at times both heartwarming and heart-wrenching) of what forgiveness and identity truly mean. The fascinating characters and plot combined with Wilkerson’s clear prose is a recipe for a fantastic novel, and “Black Cake” delivers. With such a promising debut novel, everyone should look out for — and look forward to — what Wilkerson will tackle next.
India Holton has released two novels since 2021, with a third on the way. Holton self-describes her writing as “fueled by tea, buttered scones and thunderstorms,” and affirms that she writes books about “unconventional women and charming rouges … think slow burn romance with literal explosions.” Holton’s adventure-packed, whimsical novels have been popular with readers who enjoy a good romance, fantasy or historical fiction novel. Releasing her debut novel, “The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels,” in 2021, Holton’s “Dangerous Damsels” series was off to the races. “The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels” centers on a proper, charming young woman who must work with a crazed pirate to save her beloved aunt — but there is more to her than meets the eye. She is a member of the Wisteria Society, a crime sorority that flies around England blackmailing friends, acquiring treasure and drinking tea. The following two novels in this series follow a similar premise. The second novel, “The League of Gentlewomen Witches,” centers on a secret league of women skilled in the art of witchcraft. The third novel, “The Secret Service of Tea and Treason” (slated to come out in 2023), focuses on a secret government intelligence group. Holton’s fun, witty and fanciful stories are sure to warm your heart, and readers cannot wait to see what other fascinating, women-centered novels Holton releases next.
Daphne Palasi Andreades
Daphne Palasi Andreades released her debut novel, “Brown Girls,” in 2022. While Andreades only has this novel under her belt, “Brown Girls” is so beautifully, poetically and thoughtfully written that readers can only wait with bated breath to see what she releases next. “Brown Girls” centers on a group of friends and their immigrant families from Queens, New York, and the trials and tribulations of growing up, especially as women of color. This novel is a love letter to the modern generation of brown girls, as well as an examination of womanhood, race and the intricacies of women of color forging their place in the world. Andreades excels at detailing the setting of this vibrant novel — it doubles as a love letter to Queens, with the city coming alive as you read Andreades’ beautiful prose. This blazingly original debut novel also uses a collective narrative, creating an intimacy between the characters in the novel and the readers, allowing a deeper look into these characters’ feelings, thoughts and loves. With such an enlightening and dynamic debut novel, readers should keep an eye out for what Daphne Palasi Andreades releases next.