In our Sept. 1 issue, you will find a murderers’ row of legendary authors. Nobody can predict who will become a legend in the literary world—and of course, it’s not exactly a scientific endeavor—but I would like to offer three current writers who I believe will be reaching readers for decades to come.
Arguably America’s most significant writer on racial issues in America, Ta-Nehisi Coates is a MacArthur fellow and already has a National Book Award, Kirkus Prize, and George Polk Award to his name. Between the World and Me is already a classic, and Coates also works for Marvel Comics writing the Black Panther series. He’s only 42, with many more years of writing ahead of him, and it’s not difficult to imagine his work gracing the pages of college syllabi nationwide.
Given the current political atmosphere involving the U.S. and Russia, there’s no more relevant journalist than Masha Gessen, who writes prolifically in both English and Russian. The New Yorker staff writer has written numerous acclaimed books, including The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, a winner of the National Book Award, and The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. She has investigated Vladimir Putin for years, and her reporting should continue to inform any discussion of Russia throughout her lifetime and beyond.
Yes, Jesmyn Ward is known more for her fiction, as she should be: At age 41, she already has two (!) National Book Awards under her belt, for Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing. But her poignant, potent 2013 memoir, Men We Reaped, has the makings of a classic, and she also edited The Fire This Time, a significant anthology of essays about race. She shows no signs of slowing down, so expect plenty more standout work from her in the next couple decades, in both fiction and nonfiction.
Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor.