Posted on January 1, 2023 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of January 1, 2023:

E.M. Forster (January 1, 1879): Forster wrote the novels Howards End and A Passage to India, though he was also known for his essays and his social and literary criticism.

J.D. Salinger (January 1, 1919): Salinger is known almost equally for The Catcher in the Rye, which has sold more than 65 million copies, and his reclusiveness; just two years after that classic novel came out, Salinger retreated to rural New Hampshire and didn’t publish anything new during his lifetime after 1965.

Claudia Rankine (January 1, 1963): Rankine cemented her poetry legacy with the collection Citizen: An American Lyric, which addressed racial aggression and violence in the US; it won the PEN Open Book Award, the NAACP Image Award for poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.

Isaac Asimov (January 2, 1920): Asimov wrote or edited about 500 works of fiction and nonfiction; the most famous include I, Robot, the Foundation series, The Gods Themselves (winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards), and the short story “Nightfall,” considered one of the greatest science-fiction short stories.

J.R.R. Tolkien (January 3, 1892): Tolkien is popularly known for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and its companion books, but some of his academic publications — including the lecture “Beowulf, the Monsters and the Critics” and essay “English and Welsh” — are considered equally influential.

Umberto Eco (January 5, 1932): Eco is best known for his bestselling medieval mystery, The Name of the Rose, though he was also a prominent literary critic and semiotician.

Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883): Gibran’s most famous work, The Prophet, has never been out of print and has been translated into more than fifty languages.

E. L. Doctorow (January 6, 1931): Doctorow is considered one of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century for such works as Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, and The March.

Elizabeth Strout (January 6, 1956): Strout won a Pulitzer Prize (and other honors) for her novel Olive Kitteridge; other works that have earned acclaim are Amy & Isabelle and My Name Is Lucy Barton.

Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891): Hurston was celebrated in her lifetime for her fiction (most notably Their Eyes Were Watching God), her folklore studies, and her anthropological work and found a second surge of fame after author Alice Walker wrote about a pilgrimage to her grave.

William Peter Blatty (January 7, 1928): Most of Blatty’s fiction and screenwriting was comedy, but his smash hit in both arenas came from the horror genre: The Exorcist.

Categories: Today in Books

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