The 21st century is full of eloquent women writers who have successfully broken the glass ceilings and carved their way through. They have created masterpieces and the world could not ignore them. Through their writings, they have been able to amuse, inform, persuade, and pique the interest of readers on various topics that touch everyone’s life; their writings cover a wide range of topics from friendship, affairs of heart, a familial bond, and domestic abuse to social issues. Most of the time their writings help males comprehend the difficulties of a woman and regularly ignite societal change. We need writers who can take up topics that need to be addressed and tackled in the contemporary world.

I have selected 5 powerful and eloquent women authors of the 21st century from around the world who are paving the way for future authors to keep the light shining on topics that matter to everyone.

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the most well-known feminist writers of the twenty-first century. Through her writings, she brings to the forefront social injustice, wars, and nuances of human nature. She grew up in Nigeria and her stories are set there which provide the world a glimpse of the recent history of Nigeria and its culture, female oppression, and the difficulties of immigration. Also, her work provides a non-Western perspective on what feminism is all about and assures to elimination of gender-based discriminatory barriers.

Her work has been translated into over thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New YorkerGrantaThe O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope.

She is well known for her following writings:

Purple Hibiscus (Novel – 2003)Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award
Half of a Yellow Sun (Novel – 2006)Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book
Americanah (Essay -2014)National Book Critics Circle Award  
The Thing Around Your Neck (Collection of short stories – 2009) 
We Should All Be Feminists (Essay- 2014) 

Americanah is her most acclaimed novel. It is an interesting read about the experience of the African diaspora in the USA and the UK regarding race, immigration, identity, and social relationships. This novel has the backdrop of a love story between Ifemelu and Obinze when Nigeria was under military dictatorship and people were seeking refuge in other countries.  Read this book to know exactly how the story goes ahead.  

Ms. Adichie has been invited to speak around the world. Her 2009 TED Talk – The Danger of A Single Story is now one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time. Her 2012 talk We Should All Be Feminists started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014.

2. Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy is an Indian writer, actress, architect, environmentalist, and human rights, campaigner.  She is best known for her debut novel, The God of Small Things which won her Booker Prize in 1997.  As the title indicates, it is the little things in life that make a big impact. She has deftly woven different social Indian issues like casteism, social discrimination, cultural tensions, women, and misogyny into this novel.

Following the success of The God of Small Things, Roy wrote several politically oriented nonfiction works like The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, The Cost of Living, Capitalism: A Ghost Story, and many more. A lot of her work is targeted toward political and societal problems faced in India.

She won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay in 1989 for the screenplay of In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones in which she captured the anguish among the students prevailing in professional institutions.

She received the Cultural Freedom Prize awarded by the Lannan Foundation in 2002 for her work as an activist.

3. J K Rowling

Joanne Kathleen Rowling is a British author and philanthropist. Her fame catapulted worldwide on writing Harry Potter; eight eight-volume children’s fantasy series published from 1997 to 2007. The scale of her popularity was something unheard of in the literature world. She has won many accolades for her Harry Potter book series and the entire series has been adapted into movies. Her imaginative writings gave the viewers a vivid picture of the utopian world.  

4. Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is one of the most popular feminist writers of the 21st century besides being a politician, diplomat, and lawyer. She won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election and was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Ms. Clinton has authored and co-authored several fiction and non-fiction books. Through her memoirs and other publications, she stresses that “women’s rights are human rights” and urges women to fight for equality. What Happened (2017) is a widely acclaimed memoir about her experience as the Democratic Party’s nominee and General Election candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election.

5. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an Indian American novelist, poet, and professor.  She mainly writes historical fiction for children and adults.  Her writings include The Palace of Illusions, The Mistress of Spices, The Forest of Enchantments, Sister of My Heart, Oleander Girl Before We Visit the Goddess, and many others. Her uniqueness lies in narrating the Indian mythological stories from the female perspective instead of the men’s perspective as is commonly done. 

The Palace of Illusions is the most popular novel in which the great Indian epic, Mahabharat is written from the perspective of Panchali (Draupadi) in a first-person narrative. The female characters of the epic take us through unseen and untold features of the Mahabharata. It is a different version of the epic which keeps the readers engrossed and enthralled with its newness in writing manner.

Apart from mythology, Divakaruni also writes about contemporary life in America and India, women’s experiences, immigration, history, and magical realism. Her work has been published in over 100 magazines and anthologies and translated into 29 languages.

As an activist, she helps South Asian women dealing with domestic abuse and is involved in providing literacy to disadvantaged Indian children in the USA.

Make your New Year’s Resolution to pick up and read at least one book by each of the five authors this year if you have not. The books created by these powerful women writers of the 21st century are gems, and no one should miss reading them.  

Nivedita Chitnis is a corporate HR Generalist, independent writer, and editor. She has co-authored books and writes for Indian Newspapers.

Leave a Reply