13 Authors You Need To Be Watching In 2018, Because Big Things Are Coming

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While the book world doesn’t always find itself at the forefront of breaking news — at least, not all that often — behind the major headlines your favorite authors are still involved in all sorts of endeavors that take the book world itself by storm each year. Whether they’re making waves 140 characters at a time, keeping readers endlessly waiting for that next installment in their must-read series, taking their writing off the page and onto the screen, or keeping their fingers crossed for that Nobel Prize nomination (Joan Didion, we’re still rooting for you!) each year garners a list of authors that book-lovers the world over can’t stop buzzing about — aka: your 2018 writers to watch.

Some questions we book lovers definitely want answered this year: will George R.R. Martin actually finish the sixth installment of A Song of Ice And Fire? Will Kristen Roupenian’s (you might recognize her from "Cat Person") debut fiction collection go as viral as her New Yorker story did? Will Zadie Smith's essay collection blow you away, like all her writing has done before? What will Roxane Gay rock our bookshelves with next?

Here are 13 authors to keep your eyes on in 2018.

Roxane Gay

As the author of books like Bad Feminist, Hunger, Difficult Women, and editor of the forthcoming essay collection (in May) Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, Roxane Gay literally always seems to be up to something. First of all, how she manages to consistently produce great books as often as she does is beyond me, but just keeping up with her always-active Twitter feed alone is a commitment. Keep watching her, because she always has something worth while to contribute, be it 140 characters or 140-plus pages.

Ijeoma Oluo

An editor and essayist for the Establishment magazine, Ijeoma Oluo is a writer who is constantly keeping me on my toes, challenging me, and teaching me something new — and she’s definitely someone all readers should be keeping an eye on. Her debut book, So You Want to Talk About Race, comes out Jan. 16.

Tracy K. Smith

I’ve long been obsessed with Tracy K. Smith, but now is definitely the year to keep your poetry-loving eyes on her. Smith was named Poet Laureate of the United States this past September, and her newest collection, Wade in the Water, comes out in April.

Yrsa Daley-Ward

yrsadaleyward on Instagram

Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer I don’t just want to sit down and have coffee with — I’d actually like to go on, say maybe, a 10-day cruise with her. Her writing packs a punch, and she’s as joyful as she is intense and illuminating. The first book to follow her hugely successful poetic debut, bone, is The Terrible, a memoir appearing in June. Added bonus: she makes it super easy to keep up with all her comings, goings, and writings on Instagram.

Zadie Smith

Photo by Dominique Nabokov

Zadie Smith has produced a steady stream of must-reads ever since her debut, White Teeth, rocked readers' worlds in 2000 — so she’s not a writer you’ll want to look away from for too long. Her latest is Feel Free, an essay collection that is bound to make its way on to your bookshelves in February.

Kristen Roupenian

I read "Cat Person." You read "Cat Person." We all read "Cat Person." And no matter how you feel about "Cat Person," there’s no denying that it went viral in the most insane way. Following the onslaught of online debates, the author, Kristen Roupenian, sold her debut story collection, You Know You Want This, in the U.K. and inspired an 11-publisher bidding war in the U.S. Definitely stay tuned.

Ahmed Saadawi

As the first Iraqi writer to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and a 39 best Arab authors under the age of 39, Ahmed Saadawi is one of the still-too-few Iraqi fiction writers whose work is being translated into English. This year will see the publication of Saadawi’s novel, Frankenstein in Baghdad, which is bound to make all kinds of must-read book lists.

Tara Westover

She’s already being compared to Jeanette Walls (whose much-loved memoir, The Glass Castle, was adapted to film last year) and her debut memoir hasn’t even landed on bookstore shelves yet. If you love memoirs, be sure to keep an eye on writer Tara Westover whose debut, Educated, shares a survival journey that readers are definitely going to be buzzing about this year.

Chloe Benjamin

Photo by Nathan Jandl

Her sophomore novel, The Immortalists, has had tons of readers talking prior to its publication on Jan. 9 — and it asks a classic, eternal question: if you knew when you were going to die, how would you live? I’m guessing we’re going to be hearing a ton from and about Benjamin this year.

Jane Harper

Is she on her way to becoming the newest Paula Hawkins? Anticipating its US release this February, Jane Harper’s sophomore thriller, Force of Nature, reintroduces Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk (from one of 2017’s favorite thrillers, The Dry) and is filled with tons of twists and turns you won’t want to miss. I can’t wait to see what Harper’s got up her sleeve next.

Lauren Groff

Famously counting former president Barack Obama as one of her fans (he mentioned enjoying her novel, Fates and Furies, back in 2015) author Lauren Groff returns to bookstore shelves this year, with a short story collection titled Florida, out in June. Check it out.

Angie Thomas

Anissa Photography

Another writer who stays connected with her many readers through Instagram, Angie Thomas is responsible for the debut sensation The Hate U Give. 2018 will see the publication of Thomas’s second YA title, On the Come Up (check it out in May) and you’re not going to want to miss it.

George R.R. Martin

Have any Game of Thrones fans actually ever looked away from George R.R. Martin? Might 2018 be the year that notoriously, shall we say, not-fast writer graces GoT lovers with the sixth novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series? Rumored to be 1500+ pages, it’s no wonder The Winds of Winter has taken so long to land on bookstore shelves. HOWEVER… increasingly credible rumors (fool me twice, shame on me) indicate that Martin’s latest tome MIGHT be on it’s way this year. Don’t blink, or you might miss it.