Posted on May 30, 2021 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of May 30, 2021.

Countee Cullen (May 30, 1903): Cullen is considered one of the Harlem Renaissance’s finest poets; his most famous works include Copper Sun, The Ballad of the Brown Girl, and Color.

Colm Tóibín (May 30, 1955): Tóibín spent years as a journalist and travel writer before turning his focus to novels, including such acclaimed works as Brooklyn, The Master, and House of Names.

Svetlana Alexievich (May 31, 1948): Alexievich, an investigative reporter, has used her work as the basis for five "documentary novels" about life during and after the Soviet Union; for this, she received the Nobel Prize. 

Colleen McCullough (June 1, 1938): McCullough is best known for The Thorn Birds, which earned her fame and a record advance of nearly $2 million, and her seven-book Masters of Rome series.

Thomas Hardy (June 2, 1840): Hardy is celebrated as a 19th-century writer, most notably for Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, and a 20th-century poet.

Fredrik Backman (June 2, 1981): Backman, known for such novels as A Man Called Ove and Anxious People, is a New York Times bestseller whose books have been published in more than forty countries.

Franz Kafka (June 3, 1883): Kafka only allowed a few of his works, like “The Metamorphosis,” to be published during his lifetime, and told his executor to burn leftover manuscripts (an order he disobeyed).

Allen Ginsberg (June 3, 1926): Ginsberg’s epic poem “Howl” is considered one of the most important works from the Beat literary movement.

Larry McMurtry (June 3, 1936): Among McMurtry’s thirty-plus novels are Terms of Endearment (adapted into a movie) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove.

Federico García Lorca (June 5, 1898): Lorca, considered among the most important Spanish playwrights and poets of the twentieth century, is best known for his poetry collection Romancero Gitano (Gypsy Ballads) and his play Blood Wedding.

Ken Follett (June 5, 1949): Follett’s breakthrough novel, Eye of the Needle, was made into a film, and five of his novels — The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, On Wings of Eagles, The Third Twin, The Pillars of the Earth, and World Without End — also have a corresponding TV miniseries.

Rick Riordan (June 5, 1964): While popularly known for his Percy Jackson series (and other young adult novels), Riordan has also received the top three US awards for mysteries – the Edgar, the Anthony, and the Shamus — for his Tres Navarre series. 

Birthdays sourced from Calendar of Literary Facts; biographical information sourced from Encyclopedia Britannica, the Nobel Foundation website, author websites, and publisher websites. Did we miss someone? Email and let us know.

Categories: Today in Books

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