Today’s question was suggested by Barbara:
Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?
I have no comment on the "same caliber" question, because as much as I find Austen enjoyable, and as much as I love the Bronte sisters, there are still things about their novels that I find problematic. And so far I still don't really get along with Dickens. It's probably just a me thing. I don't know. What I do know is when I think of a classic - that is, (to me) a book that transcends its time and is read in years and years to come - I don't really trust the critics. I trust the readers instead. I trust the books that draw you in despite the fact that you're too busy to read/don't like that type of fiction/are supposed to be doing something else/etc, books that you would want to read over and over again, books that make you want to tell everyone you know, you HAVE to read this
I haven't read a lot of Stephen King, but from what I've read by him and of him, I think he is probably one of the current authors who might still be read widely in the future. Diana Wynne Jones and Roald Dahl are definitely authors I could see people enjoying a hundred years from now. I'm not entirely sure that Rowling should
be read as a classic in the future, but I have this feeling that Harry Potter books will still be enjoyed then. On the other hand, there are a lot of authors and novels that I wish would always be read, because they were just that good, (and I won't name names because it would make me feel guilty about the names I didn't name but should have, ha) that I'm not sure would still be read in the future.
For the most part, though, I think that the way we read and choose books will probably be very different in the future, so there's no real way to predict who will be read and who wouldn't. It's probably likely that with e-books and the fact that we publish more novels in more genres than people could imagine existing once, in the future people would probably be able to get hold of and hear about lesser known authors/books from our time, and just read what they like, be it something from the bestseller lists or an obscure title printed in limited quantities by an indie publisher.
[this was written on extreme lack of sleep + in the aftermath of a day spent lugging cartons of books around/humoring customers looking for That Mysterious Blue Book, so i really can't even tell if i'm making much sense.]