Who are the 5 Greatest Modern Catholic Authors?

Let me start by laying the ground rules for your choices:

  1. English language only (as I’m mostly familiar with authors working in that language).

  2. Fiction/Literature, not non-fiction.

  3. Not authors who happen to be Catholic, but those whose Catholicism informs and permeates their work.

  4. 20th/21st Century only

In no particular order, my choices would be:

  1. Flannery O’Connor

  2. J.R.R. Tolkien

  3. G.K. Chesterton

  4. Evelyn Waugh

  5. Anthony Burgess

Your choices?

I would agree with that list, although James Joyce has got to be 6 then. :slight_smile:

God bless.


Bishop Fulton Sheen.

Peter Kreeft

Scott Hahn

William F. Buckley

Thomas Dubay

Thomas Merton


I definitely agree with Thomas Merton. And, although not an English writer, any list of Catholic writers must include Paul Claudel.

Thomas Merton would top my list

Absolutely. I would like to add some favorites:

William Peter Blatty, also an excellent film director and sweet person
Dean Koontz (a convert and a good person and several of my friends love his work but I could take it or leave it)
Elmore Leonard
Walker Percy
Don Westlake
Gene Wolfe (LOVE him!)
Walter M. Miller (another convert; I’m in excellent company!)

Great thread! :smiley:

Although Eastern Catholic, one would fairly have to consider + Catherine Doherty (1896-1985), foundress of Madonna House and a current cause for canonization. She wrote several well recognized books, including a personal favorite, “Beginning Again” on the blessings of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Thanks for the responses so far. I was asking about authors of fiction, rather than those primarily for a body of nonfiction with a few novels thrown in.

The OP asked for writers of fiction.

Tolkien is likely my favorite author- not just for his writing which is good- but not as great, perhaps as many others, but his works have personally shaped my life. Though I love Tolkien and all about his works, I wouldn’t characterize his works as intimately tied to Catholicism as a Joyce or an O’Conner.

Just my opinion as a true Tolkien nerd.

Sorry, Mike! That said, this is a very interesting thread - thanks for initiating it!

I’m glad to see Elmore Leonard mentioned. A wonderful storyteller.

George Weigel is a great modern Catholic writer.

  1. Flannery O’Conner
  2. JRR Tolkien
  3. Graham Greene
  4. GK Chesterton
    5, Sheldon Van Auken

Oh, Graham Greene!!! :thumbsup:

I thought about including both Greene and Joyce. Self-limiting myself to only 5 boxed me in, though. :slight_smile:

ringil, I too love Tolkien, but in my opinion, his works are quite tied to Catholicism. The themes of sacrifice, of carrying the cross (or the ring) up the hill, the Lembas* bread that replenishes the heroes on their journey, “more strengthening than any food by men,” the inner desire for the return of the King, the Lady Varda as an analog to Our Lady, the vanquishing of evil by the small and meek, and much more.

Good article, with unfortunately a fair number of (computer-generated) typos: catholiceducation.org/articles/arts/al0160.html

Peter Kreeft has some great lectures on the Catholic themes of Tolkien available on iTunes - here’s a good article by him on the subject: ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/pkreeft_christlotr_nov05.asp

I am waiting for December 14…

*Here’s a recipe for Lembas bread, BTW - my son made some and it’s quite tasty: geekychef.com/2008/12/elven-lembas-bread.html

Louis de Wohl - “The Spear” and other novelizations of the lives of the saints

William E. Barrett - “Lilies of the Field” and “The Empty Shrine”

Paulo Coelho - yes, he’s Brazilian, but his works have been widely translated into English “The Alchemist”

And while perhaps not fitting everyone’s definition of “great”, many of Mary Higgins Clark’s romantic suspense novels feature devout Catholic characters, and James Patterson’s Det. Michael Bennett series does, also.

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