Learn more about the most influential and compelling works written by the best Irish authors of the 21st century. Discover the finest examples of Irish fiction with their imaginative and masterful storytelling.
Throughout its history, Ireland has been home to a plethora of brilliant minds. A new wave of Irish writers has emerged in the 21st century, enthralling audiences with their impressive prose and thought-provoking perspectives.
Related Read: Best Irish Writers Of All Time
Contemporary literature has been forever altered by the works of the best Irish authors of the 21st century, who have made their imprint through both dramatic storytelling and thought-provoking narratives.
In this list, we’ll get to know the extraordinary individuals who have influenced the literary world in the past two decades.
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12 Best Irish Authors Of The 21st Century
1. Cecelia Ahern
Whether you read her books or not, there’s no denying that Cecelia Ahern has cemented her spot in modern Irish literature. She rose to prominence following the release of her song “P.S. I Love You,” which has now racked up more than 25 million copies sold throughout the globe.
In addition, she has written “Where Rainbows End”,”If You Could See Me Now”, “The Gift”, “How to Fall in Love”, “The Year I Met You”, “Flawed”, “Perfect”, “Lyrebird”, the anthology “ROAR”. and “Postscript,” the sequel to “P.S. I Love You.”
In her most recent work, “In a Thousand Different Ways,” Ahern tells the tale of Alice, a woman weighed down by a tangle of conflicting feelings.
2. Colin Barrett
It is quite uncommon to find a writer with such impressive accolades who remains relatively unknown among readers.
However, it is worth noting that it is equally uncommon for a writer to receive such high recognition solely for a single collection of short stories. Barrett’s “Young Skins”, a remarkable collection of short stories, achieved great acclaim in 2014.
This book won several notable awards, including the the Guardian First Book Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.
In 2015, the collection was published in the United States and received prestigious recognition as a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree.
This writing is a captivating blend of poetic expression, intense emotion, and a haunting sense of emptiness. It demands your attention and promises to leave a lasting impression.
3. Christine Dwyer Hickey
For almost twenty-five years, Christine Dwyer Hickey has provided readers with works that are both emotionally and psychologically honest and powerful.
Her novels “Tatty,” which was selected as Unesco’s Dublin One City One book, and “The Cold Eye of Heaven,” both set in Dublin, take great pleasure in eulogizing a dying dialect of Dublin Irish.
Her newest book, “The Narrow Land,” is a dramatized account of artist Edward Hopper’s marriage. The protagonists in Dwyer Hickey’s works are always trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the grand scheme of things.
4. Emma Donoghue
Dublin-born Emma Donoghue attended University College Dublin in the late 1980s. Then she traveled to Cambridge to get her doctorate on male and female friendship in 18th-century English literature.
Five of her short story collections have been compiled into anthologies, and eight novels have been published, with “Frog Music” and “Room” among her most successful works.
Both the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize (now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) were awarded to the latter, and it was also a nominee for several other prizes. Emma’s screenplay for the film adaptation of “Room” was nominated for an Academy Award.
5. Anne Enright
Dublin-based Anne Enright has authored seven novels, including The Gathering, which was awarded the 2007 Man Booker Prize, and two collections of short stories, all of which were published under the title Yesterday’s Weather.
Her 2015 novel, The Green Road, also received high praise and established Enright as a leading voice among contemporary Irish authors.
In addition to receiving the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2018, she was also named the first Laureate for Irish Fiction the same year.
The Irish Book Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022 goes to her as well.
6. Tana French
Tana Elizabeth French is an acclaimed author who attended the prestigious Trinity College Dublin.
In 2007, she released her first novel, “In the Woods”, which captivated readers with its gripping psychological mystery.
This remarkable debut went on to receive numerous prestigious awards, including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for best first novel.
The author’s initial six novels form an enthralling collection known as the Dublin Murder Squad series.
Following the release of “The Trespasser” in 2016, French delighted readers with two captivating standalone novels, namely “The Witch Elm” and “The Searcher.”
These enthralling tales, like their predecessor, take place against the backdrop of Ireland, transporting readers to a world brimming with mystery, intrigue, and unforgettable characters.
Exciting news emerged in June 2023 as her publisher unveiled plans for the highly anticipated release of her ninth novel, titled “The Hunter.”
7. Mia Gallagher
In 2006, Mia Gallagher made her debut with the release of her first novel, “HellFire”. The book marked the beginning of her literary journey, captivating readers with its unique storytelling.
However, Gallagher’s creative process for her second novel was a labor of love that spanned an impressive twelve years.
In the Irish Times, Claire Kilroy praised her as a writer who possesses the imaginative prowess of an artist.
Kilroy’s review of the recently published novel, “Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland,” describes it as a captivating and daring work. The book stands out for its unique approach and thought-provoking content.
While it may have its imperfections, it manages to evoke powerful emotions and keeps readers engrossed with its intriguing storyline.
8. Marian Keyes
Keyes has become a literary sensation in Ireland over the last two decades, captivating readers with her exceptional storytelling. Her novels have achieved remarkable success, selling over 35 million copies worldwide and being translated into more than 30 languages.
Her writing style is characterized by its sharpness and ability to captivate readers, particularly in the realm of romance. Through her stories, she skillfully crafts heroines who possess both intelligence and determination, pushing the boundaries of traditional romantic narratives.
The captivating novel “Watermelon” by the talented author was brought to life on the big screen with an equally enthralling film adaptation. The movie, also titled “Watermelon,” featured the brilliant Anna Friel in a leading role.
9. Lisa McInerney
Miss McInerney has gained a reputation for her authentic portrayals of the hardworking Irish working class. The journey began with a captivating blog chronicling her experiences residing in a Galway council estate back in 2006.
Her work earned her the prestigious 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, solidifying her position as a literary force to be reckoned with.
Additionally, she also clinched the esteemed Desmond Elliott Prize, further cementing her status as an exceptional talent in the world of literature.
Check out McInerney’s “The Glorious Heresies”, a captivating and thought-provoking portrayal of family dynamics, blending humor and darkness to shed light on Ireland’s complex relationship with sexuality throughout history.
10. Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney has gained widespread acclaim for her ability to create deeply relatable characters and capture the complexities of modern relationships.
Her two novels, “Conversations With Friends” (2017) and “Normal People” (2018), have solidified her reputation as a writer who truly understands the experiences and dynamics of our generation.
For fans of Rooney’s captivating fiction, exploring her thought-provoking essays is an absolute must.
Among them, ‘An Irish Problem’ stands out as a truly remarkable piece, showcasing Rooney’s eloquence and insight. This essay was published in anticipation of Ireland’s significant referendum on abortion, making it a timely and poignant read.
Delve into Rooney’s essays and discover a whole new dimension of her literary prowess.
11. Deirdre Sullivan
Galway native Deirdre Sullivan writes drama, prose, and poetry. Yet, she is renowned for her works aimed at young adults, such as the award-winning retellings of European fairy tales from a female perspective (Tangleweed and Brine) and the Children of Lir series (Savage Her Reply).
The poetic prose softens the experience, and her compassion for “difficult” females, both mythological and modern, is palpable from page to page.
The banter between Madeline and Catlin in Sullivan’s Ballyfran books (“Perfectly Preventable Deaths” and its upcoming sequel, “Precious Catastrophe”) is especially delightful, snarky, and Hiberno-English embracing, and not even witchcraft or ancient evil can get in the way of that.
12. Colm Tóibín
Colm Tóibn is one of Ireland’s most celebrated modern authors. He was born in Wexford and didn’t start reading until he was nine.
However, after discovering Ernest Hemingway in his late teens, he became obsessed with his work. His writings delve into topics such as Irish culture, art, and identity, as well as the Irish diaspora, and have been translated into over thirty tongues.
His work has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize on three separate occasions and he received the International DUBLIN Literary Award for his novel “The Master” in 2006.
The cinematic adaptation of his novel “Brooklyn” from 2009 was released last year and was nominated for three Oscars.
Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. But despite living in several countries, my love for Ireland remains the same. A country that had been a part of my life since I was 14 because of my love for Irish music and bands. Ireland Travel Guides was born because of this passion and hopefully, in some little ways, this website will be able to help you on your next trip to Ireland.