Happy Tuesday everyone! It is the second day of the week already but I hope everyone is doing well and is safe. Tuesdays also mean one thing, a Top Ten Tuesday update! Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
This week’s given topic is 21st Century Books I Think Will Become Classics
This week’s topic is quite interesting. There are several 21st-century books that I really enjoyed. Some even have made it to my all-time favorites. Considering that we are already one-fifth into the 21st century, I know I am going to have a challenging time picking out ten titles I believe will transcend time and become literary classics. Without more ado, here is my list of 21st-century books which I think will become classics. Happy reading!
The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk
I am kicking off the list with one of the most recent books that have captivated me. The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk was cited by the Swedish Academy as the Polish author’s magnum opus when they awarded her the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature. This made me look forward to the book, which finally got its English translation in 2021; it was originally published in Polish in 2014. While it can be inaccessible, its complexity, level of details, and vast of characters will certainly leave an impression on any readers’ mind. It is a book about history. These are its strongest facets, elements that will ensure the book’s immortality. I also felt like Tokarczuk’s Flights is a book that fits this week’s theme. It is an unconventional book that grappled with a vast scope of subjects. Not only was it unconventional, it was also innovative.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
When I started perusing must-read lists, one of the writers that constantly popped up was Jeffrey Eugenides. His novels were fixtures in this list. However, one title stood out from his three novels: Middlesex (2002). For years, I have been crossing my fingers before I was finally able to obtain a copy of the book. Listed as part of my 2017 Top 20 Reading List, Middlesex was everything I expected it to be, and more. It grappled with an unusual subject but it was wonderfully handled by Eugenides. Back in 2017, I wrote this on my review: I have never been swept away by a book before the way Middlesex did. I was just in awe, from the compelling story to the way it was told. There is a boldness to the story that I can barely keep my hands off it. The moment I started reading I just wanted to know how it is going to end. It certainly deserves all the accolades that it got, including that Pulitzer Prize citation.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Lately, I have been immersing myself in the works of African writers. I have had an African literature month in the past two years. They were experiences I relished. One of the writers who stood out was Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She first won me over with Half of a Yellow Sun but it was Americanah that provided me with a more intimate glimpse of her prose. Published in 2013, the novel addressed several seminal subjects, particularly the African diaspora, cultural assimilation, and the migrant experience. These are subjects that are timely. In the greater scheme of things and of history, these are among the subjects that will define the era we are currently in. It is for this that I believe the novel will become a classic.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Published in 2004, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas was a book that I was initially apprehensive about. I actually thought that it was a nonfiction book about, well, clouds. But once I was able to rectify the error, I immediately grabbed a copy of the book. Listed as one of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, Cloud Atlas is one of the books that will perplex the readers. It is a book that refused to conform to literary norms. It is a genre-bending piece of literature that had a distinct structure. It was the book’s complexity that provided it an irresistible appeal. For all the challenges it presents, it is brimming with majestic storytelling that one rarely encounters. It is, for me, a testament to the power of writing to influence and entertain.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Another African writer who left a deep impression on me was Ghanaian writer Yaa Gyasi. Her debut novel, Homegoing, was highly recommended by fellow readers upon its release in 2016. However, like in the case of Cloud Atlas, I was a little ambivalent at first. I finally relented and jumped on the bandwagon. With vivid details, Homegoing charted the story of half-sisters Effia and Esi, daughters of an Asante woman named Maame. The setting: 18th century Ghana. A work of historical fiction, it underlined the shortcomings of history. In perfectly engineered conversations, Gyasi subtly underscored how history was written by the people who held power. A lot of history remains murky because it was told from the perspective of the victors. Its credibility is in question.
Human Acts by Han Kang
It was a fellow blogger who recommended Han Kang’s Human Acts for me to read. I, again, was a little not too keen on the idea. The Vegetarian did not appeal much to me (but my opinion of the book has since then changed). Since I trusted this blogger’s taste in books, I relented and Human Acts ended up becoming one of the first books I read during the lockdown. Originally published in Korean in 2014, the book simply astounded me. I know, it is another work of historical fiction that dealt with one of the bloodiest events in contemporary South Korean history, already the third on this list. What really grabbed me about the book was how it vividly portrayed humanity. Kang digs explores the subterranean world of human sensitivity and the continuously shifting definition of humanity in light of a society that is increasingly careening towards strife and discord. Human Acts is a potent local story that reverberates with a universal message.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
It was in 2016, I believe, that I first encountered Swedish writer Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove (originally published in Swedish in 2012). Because it was everywhere, I was, again, apprehensive about reading the book. But after seeing the book in a KPop idol’s (NCT 127’s Johnny) bag, I finally decided to give the book a try. At the end of the book, I was kicking myself for my wrong impressions. A Man Called Ove is definitely a must-read! Everything was well done – the story and the writing were simple but with the perfect undertones of comical and serious textures. Ove can be a belligerent character but his story can paint a wide smile on anyone’s face. But as heartwarming as it is, A Man Called Over is also heartbreaking. Backman’s heartwarming story coaxes us to cherish everything in our lives, even the smallest things in life. It is also a reminder that our small acts of kindness never go unpaid. I also loved Anxious People although I wasn’t too keen on reading it at first as well.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
So here’s another wonderful work of fiction I was finally able to read in 2020; the lockdowns did help me tick off several books from my growing reading list. Although I obtained a copy of Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind in 2017, it wasn’t until 2020 that I managed to read it. You see, as the case in most of the books on this list, I was a little apprehensive about reading the book. At the end of the experience, I realized that The Shadow of the Wind was a beautifully sculpted masterpiece. It is a collection of stories within a story, a novel within a novel that was skillfully stitched together by Ruiz Zafón’s dexterous hands and imaginative storytelling. The way he captured the heart and soul of Barcelona was astounding, as riveting as the story itself. The mystery, the coming-of-age, and the transformations were vividly captured in a magnificent literary tour de force.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
I can’t believe one-half of the books on this list are all from my 2020 reading journey. The fifth entry is Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. The co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, Girl, Woman, Other, it is quite unique from the other books on the list. It is a strongly feminist work but one that will resonate in the years to come because of its universal voices. Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is an inimitable piece of fiction that possesses a universal and profound voice. Its advocacies, coming in the form of twelve interesting characters, was related in a form that seamlessly flowed. Its interesting approach to the broad schools of thought on race and identity is simply captivating. This brilliant masterpiece reminds readers of the power of fiction. In creating genuine connections between the story and the reader, works of fiction rouse in the readers a true wish for transformation.
Milkman by Anna Burns
Closing this list with another Booker Prize-winning masterpiece. In 2018, Anna Burns’ Milkman was announced as the winner. I barely had any iota on who Burns was nor have I read any of her works previously. Nonetheless, I am always up for a new experience, hence, the joy I experienced when I was finally able to obtain a copy of the book. Milkman started as a story of the things that are wrong and that can go wrong in society. But through its apolitical and unique narrator, the story evolved into one of hope. It may not be your typical read but its depth, and its colorful palette charm the reader. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it is eccentric at times. But it is this kind of heavy but fascinating and bold reads that makes the reading journey worthwhile. The relevance of novels like Milkman resonates beyond the present.
And thus ends my Top Ten Tuesday list. To be honest, I do have quite a lot of books I could choose from but these were the titles that immediately came to mind. I do hope you enjoyed my list. How about you fellow reader? What 21st-century books do you believe will become classics?? I hope you can share it in the comment box. For now, happy reading! I do hope you have a great week ahead.