30 Of The Best Books Written By Millennials

Millennials can get a bad rap. They're lazy! They're self-obsessed! They're surgically attached to their electronic devices! But, the millennial generation has contributed much more to the culture at large than just Twitter wars and the selfie stick.

Take these 30 books, for instance, each one written by an author born between 1982 and 2004 (the closest range to "official" when it comes to millennials), and each one more than worthy of your time. Reader, beware: if you yourself are in this age range, you may find yourself suddenly inspired to do great things.
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Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books.
Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
30-year-old Helen Oyeyemi is the epitome of an early bloomer — after all, she wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl, when she was still in high school. All of her books are great, infused with fairy tale logic and gorgeous, playful language. But, her 2001 effort, Mr. Fox, might still be the best: a metafictional romance in which a writer who keeps killing off his heroines finds himself in a strange love triangle, caught between his actual, real-life wife, and his possibly-not-quite-human muse.
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Photo: Courtesy of FSG Originals.
Gutshot by Amelia Gray
You couldn't accuse Gray's third collection of false advertising: the 38 short tales within will indeed leave you feeling gutshot — in the best of ways. Dark, fable-like, and full of viscera both emotional and physical, these stories are grotesque jewels that will haunt you, terrify you, and touch your heart.
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Photo: Courtesy of Back Bay Books.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Catton's second novel, the ambitious, 19th-century-inspired The Luminaries, won the Man Booker Prize in 2013, making her, at 28, the youngest author ever to be awarded the honor. The novel also holds the record for the longest book (832 pages!) to win the prize — no small achievement in and of itself.
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Photo: Courtesy of University of Akron Press.
Girl-King by Brittany Cavallaro
These stunning poems are populated by magician's girls and girl-kings, aggressors, and victims eye-rolling and otherwise, plus Persephone getting herself kidnapped at the Stop-n-Shop. And, there are girls you might recognize from your hometown, or your bedroom mirror. Every line here vibrates; every line here is a scalpel.
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Photo: Courtesy of Dial Press Trade.
Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner
What happens when two children in Brighton Beach form an indelible connection, only to be separated by a mysterious set of circumstances? Well, for starters, you get a literary love story that's not to be missed.
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Photo: Courtesy of Picador.
East of the West by Miroslav Penkov
Turns out that the voice of Bulgaria is a 33-year-old bilingual professor named Miroslav Penkov. In his moving, sometimes absurdist collection, a young man tries to buy the dead body of Lenin on eBay for his Communist grandfather; a husband reads another man's love letters to his paralyzed wife; and, a boy, obsessed with his cousin, meets her every five years in the river that divides their lives. Complex and touching stories, all.
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Photo: Courtesy of Coffee House Press.
Faces In The Crowd by Valeria Luiselli
If you liked Dept. of Speculation, try this mysterious and layered gem from 32-year-old Luiselli, about a young mother and translator living in Mexico City writing a novel.
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Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books.
Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins
Claire Vaye Watkins is some kind of wonder, and this collection, her debut, is appropriately wonderful. The stories here will take you to the open skies and dark destructions of the American West, inside brothels and cults, and deep into the recesses of the human psyche.
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Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books.
Hall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce
The stories in Pierce's debut collection are sheer delights, pushing the boundaries of reality while also asking serious questions about what it means to be human. Plus, they're funny. In "Shirley Temple Three," a woman has to take care of a miniature woolly mammoth her son has secreted in her home. In "The Real Alan Gass," a man becomes increasingly suspicious of his wife's dream-husband — that is, the husband she is married to in her actual dreams.
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Photo: Courtesy of Yes Yes Books.
No by Ocean Vuong
One of the very youngest writers on this list (born in 1988!), Vuong is busy taking the poetry world by storm, winning prize after prize, and basically stunning everyone with his beautiful, dream-like poems. His debut full-length collection comes out in 2016 — until then, read this chapbook.
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Photo: Courtesy of Grove Press.
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
A contemporary story of a young Arab hacker on the run from an oppressive government — plus, you know, some djinn.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hogarth.
The People Of Forever Art Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu
This novel about teenage girls fighting in the Israeli army is like Mean Girls crossed with The Things They Carried, and riveting all the way through.
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Photo: Courtesy of Wheeler.
Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
This is the story of an American ballet dancer trying to make it in Paris in the '70s, the Russian dancer she loves and helps to defect, and (later) her own ballet-obsessed son. A smart novel you won't be able to put down.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hogarth.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
A beautiful novel about a group of interconnected people surviving a decade of war in Chechnya. Not to be read without tissues.
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Photo: Courtesy of FSG Originals.
Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey
If you've ever wanted to run away from your own life, read this book. After all, that's exactly what the unhappy Elyria does — drops everything and takes a flight from Manhattan to New Zealand, spiraling into daring adventures of both the body and mind.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ecco.
Southern Cross The Dog by Bill Cheng
A rip-roaring, fiercely-written odyssey through the deep South, set after the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. For the adventurers among you.
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Photo: Courtesy of Graywolf Press.
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Jamison's brilliant book of essays investigates how we care — about one another's bodies and minds, about ourselves — mining everything from her own experience as a medical actor to a Los Angeles Gang Tour.
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Photo: Courtesy of Strauss and Giroux.
Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg
Lit-lovers have been waiting for this one for a long time — the new debut novel from Laura van den Berg, whose short stories have been tantalizing readers for years. And, what a debut! A strange, haunting novel about memory and loneliness and survival in a world you may or may not recognize as your own.
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Photo: Courtesy of Harper.
The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith
A lovely novel that follows three generations of one family living on the North Carolina coastline through the Revolutionary War.
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Photo: Courtesy of Harper Perennial.
Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
A brutal, electrifying debut in which a young West African boy leaves everything he's ever known behind, forced to join in with his country's civil war. A gripping, if terrifying, tale expertly told.
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Photo: Courtesy of Harper.
Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
In this stunning debut novel, an aging woman named Maud is beginning to forget things — but not her best friend Elizabeth, whom Maud is convinced is missing and in need of her help. Her obsession, ignored by everyone around her, leads her down a path of memory and history and what it means to lose one's self.
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Photo: Courtesy of Harper.
Antidote by Corey Van Landingham
This book of poems is a brilliant, shockingly emotive elegy where love and loss have teeth and run wild. For life, as for death, there is no antidote.
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Photo: Courtesy of Random House.
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
Obreht is as famous for being young as she is for her bestselling debut novel, written largely while she was in college and published when she was only 24. But, don't let that dissuade you from the novel itself, a family saga about a girl and her grandfather in the Balkans, not to mention the nature of death and life and storytelling.
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Photo: Courtesy of Knopf Books.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Here's a feat: Paolini is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "youngest author of a bestselling book series." Eragon, a boy-and-his-dragon fantasy novel, is the highly enjoyable first of said series.
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Photo: Courtesy of Grove Press.
Young Skins by Colin Barrett
This vibrant, lyrical collection, which chronicles life in a small and sometimes bleak Irish town, has been much lauded overseas, but has been under-read here. Time to change all that.
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Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books.
Panic In A Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya
A wise and funny novel about a family of Russian immigrants living in Brighton Beach, trying to draw the borders of their own worlds.
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Photo: Courtesy of Atria Books.
The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin
Benjamin's debut novel is a dream-thriller — that is, a cerebral, literary novel about lucid dreaming (and those who practice and study it) that will make you turn pages like a madwoman.
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Photo: Courtesy of Dial Press.
A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois
Two people — a chess champion challenging Putin for president and an English teacher who may have the same disease that killed her father — come together in this smart debut. It is a novel that asks the question: how are we to proceed when our cause is hopeless? Come on, you know you want to know.
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Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Books.
Redeployment by Phil Klay
This insightful collection of short stories about the Iraq war, written by a 32-year-old veteran, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014. In his acceptance speech, he said, "I can't think of a more important conversation to be having. War is too strange to be processed alone." And, what better way to process in tandem than through the enduring power of literature?
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Photo: Courtesy of Alice James Books.
Hum by Jamaal May
A tough, swagger-filled poetry collection that will leave you suffused in sound — in the beat, the purr, the smack. A word to the wise: read this one out loud.
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