5 Biggest Novels Of The 21st Century

POSTED BY Heather Johnson, UPDATED ON March 25th, 2023
5 Biggest Novels of the 21st Century

The 21st century has seen some huge-selling books make a real impression on popular as well as literary culture. Five novels, in particular, have made a real mark. Let’s have a look at 5 of the biggest novels of the 21st Century:


Best of British

‘White Teeth’ by British novelist, Zadie Smith is a kaleidoscopic novel that relates the story of Archie and Samad, an Englishman and a Bengali who were comrades in World War Two. The story relates how the two men build families over the years and encounter the rich multi-cultural soup that is life in England’s capital city, London.

Exploring some of Smith’s own Jamaican identity, as well as that of the Irish, Bengali, and other types of people who have made London their home over the years, this is primarily a touching tale of two families, the Jones family, and the Iqbal family. The book’s status was cemented by its youthful author, who was only 21 when the novel was written, winning the Whitbread First Novel Award. It has sold in excess of a million copies.

Ian McEwan is a much more established British novelist who has been making waves for a number of years now. His novel, ‘Atonement’ is another masterpiece of prose from one of the world’s great prose stylists.

Dealing with the activities of an English family during World War Two, the action centers on a crime that takes place in 1935. A sensitive and dark book, it is well worth reading for its exploration of class and conscience in England.


Blockbuster Sales

Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ has been one of the 21st century’s biggest-selling books, which also sparked a revival of interest in secret societies and the story of the Holy Grail. Brown is a prolific author, all four of whose novels were at one stage on the New York Times Bestseller List.

It’s a romp through history that plays fast and loose with fact and speculation in a highly enjoyable way. Whilst the purists might find the style somewhat clichéd and clunky, it is still an enjoyable read.

Another novel that has made a huge commercial impact, not least because it was made into a hit film recently, is Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’. Concerning the exploits of Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist whose life is crumbling, Blomkvist ends up investigating the disappearance of a woman.

Lisbeth Salander is the misunderstood young woman he enlists to help him. A dramatic novel, that is part of a trilogy, its writer sadly died in 2004. His work will live on long after him.


Iconic Legends

Perhaps the best-known literary phenomenon of the 21st century has been the Harry Potter book, written by JK Rowling. The novel, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ is the seventh and concluding novel in the series, which has attracted such critical and commercial attention over the first decade of the 21st century.

The series has also been made into a series of blockbuster films. This novel is where Harry, the boy wizard who is the eponymous hero of the stories, finds the secret of his existence. This does not occur, however, until he and his comrades have battled past the minions of Voldemort. A treat for both adults and children, this is a superb way to bring down the curtain on an iconic series.

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