The Image Top 50 Contemporary Writers of Faith

The Image Top 50 Contemporary Writers of Faith September 23, 2013

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, Epistles

Denis 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


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