By Gregory Wolfe
Last week we posted a list of The Top 25 Contemporary Writers of Faith. We did so for several reasons, perhaps the most important being that there continue to be articles and essays proclaiming a dearth of contemporary literature that grapples with the age-old religious questions of our Western tradition.
We begged to differ, and we put out what we believed to be a pretty outstanding group of writers to furnish irrefutable evidence.
The response was electric. That web page was shared nearly 6,000 times and several dozen comments were received, including suggestions of a slew of writers people thought should have been included.
So we decided to post a new list—of 50 writers. Most of those we’ve added came from your suggestions, a few from the original survey we took, and a couple sprinkled in from our own editorial list of favorites.
We also felt this expanded version was worth doing because a list like this can serve as a valuable resource—it’s a cracking good reading list.
Looking at all 50, we honestly don’t believe the expanded list has been watered down by the additions—the quality remains, as they say, “world-class.”
Of course, as we noted last time, for all their popularity, lists are inherently flawed. This one is no different. Thank you for being such a vibrant, engaged community. You are the reason why Image flourishes.
The new additions to the list are boldfaced.
Pinckney Benedict, Wrecking Yard, Town Smokes, Miracle Boy and Other Stories
Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow; Hannah Coulter; That Distant Land
Doris Betts, Souls Raised from the Dead, The Sharp Teeth of Love
Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth, Godric, Telling Secrets, Whistling in the Dark
Scott Cairns, Compass of Affection; Philokalia
Richard Chess, Third Temple, A Chair in the Desert
Robert Clark, My Grandfather’s House; Mr. White’s Confession
Robert Cording, Walking with Ruskin, Common Life, Against Consolation
Annie Dillard, For the Time Being
Carlos Eire, Waiting for Snow in Havana, Learning to Die in Miami
Leif Enger, Peace Like a River, So Brave, Young, and Handsome
Louise Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, The Plague of Doves
B.H. Fairchild, Usher; Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
Ron Hansen, Mariette in Ecstasy; Exiles; A Stay Against Confusion
Patricia Hampl, Blue Arabesque; The Florist’s Daughter
Mark Helprin, In Sunlight and in Shadow; The Pacific and Other Stories
Geoffrey Hill, Selected Poems
Susan Howatch, Glittering Images, Glamorous Powers, Absolute Truths
Fanny Howe, Radical Love, Come and See
Andrew Hudgins, American Rendering, Ecstatic in the Poison
Mark Jarman, Bone Fires, Unholy Sonnets, Questions for Ecclesiastes, EpistlesDenis Johnson, Jesus’ Son, Tree of Smoke, Train Dreams
Mary Karr, Lit; Sinners Welcome
Julia Kasdorf, Sleeping Preacher; Poetry in America
Haven Kimmel, The Solace of Leaving Early, The Used World
Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies
Bret Lott, Jewel; A Song I Knew by Heart
Thomas Lynch, The Undertaking, Bodies in Rest and in Motion
Paul Mariani, The Great Wheel; Deaths and Transfigurations; Epitaphs for the Journey
Alice McDermott, At Weddings and Wakes, Charming Billy
Erin McGraw, Lies of the Saints, The Good Life, Better Food for a Better World
Les Murray, Subhuman Redneck Poems, New Selected Poems
Marilyn Nelson, The Fields of Praise, Faster Than Light
Kathleen Norris, Dakota; The Cloister Walk; Acedia and Me
Ann Patchett, Bel Canto; The Patron Saint of Liars; Run; State of Wonder
Reynolds Price, A Whole New Life, Three Gospels, A Palpable God
David Adams Richards, Mercy Among the Children; The Friends of Meager Fortune
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead; Home; Absence of Mind
Richard Rodriguez, Brown; Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography
Elizabeth Strout, Abide with Me; Olive Kitteridge; The Burgess Boys
John Terpstra, Brilliant Falls, Skin Boat, The Boys
John Updike, In the Beauty of the Lilies, Roger’s Version, My Father’s Tears
Jeanne Murray Walker, The Geography of Memory, New Tracks, Night Falling
Richard Wilbur, Anterooms, Collected Poems
Christian Wiman, Every Riven Thing; My Bright Abyss
Tim Winton, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music, Breath
Larry Woiwode, Beyond the Bedroom Wall, Born Brothers, Poppa John, Acts
Tobias Wolff, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, Back in the World, Old School
Franz Wright, God’s Silence; Walking to Martha’s Vineyard; The Beforelife
Adam Zagajewski, Mysticism for Beginners; Another Beauty; Without End: New and Selected Poems