What authors writing today will someday be shelved in the "Classics" section?

I was once a public libarian in charge of a library’s young-adult section. This included a collection of “Classics” – which is library-talk for “books adults want teenagers to read.” You know, the sort of stuff that gets put in high-school English summer reading lists; books for which Cliffs publishes notes. Faulkner, Hemingway, Homer, Fitzgerald, Chaucer, Pynchon, Salinger, Joyce – serious mainstream litchracha. Most of the authors are dead, of course. (There was also a larger general YA collection of books we expected teenagers would want to read – Twilight novels, Cirque du Freak, graphic novels and manga, etc.)

What authors, writing today, will someday be considered “Classics” by that standard?

Haruki Murakami
Alexander McCall Smith
Russell Hoban

Alice Sebold
Dave Mitchell

dan brown
michael crichton
jk rowling? i shudder to think.

I’m just going to throw this one out there: Stephen King. I know he gets the stink-eye from the people who decide school canon, but you’ve got to admit, he’s a superb storyteller. I don’t think he’ll be considered a Classic writer any time soon, but maybe a couple of decades down the road he’ll be able to achieve that status.

Almost certainly Alice Munro.

Agree with this.

Cormac McCarthy

Kazuo Ishiguro will be taught for ages, and deservedly so. Partly that is because the tone of his books are similar to earlier classics, so he gets an easier pass to the classics category. There are other obvious living authors, but I don’t think people like Garcia-Marquez count as there is no question that he will be taught and shelved among the classics.

Among more questionable selections I think Michael Chabon has a pretty good chance. I have a lot of problems with his books, but he has the right balance of heft and popular appeal to make that transition.

Toni Morrison
Mark Helprin
Mary Oliver

The neglected works of Jacqueline Susan. The novels of Harold Robbins.

Margaret Drabble
A S Byatt

Larry McMurtry

I’m with you on this one. He’s always reminded me of Charles Dickens - a writer who is a great storyteller and was just as popular as King in his day.

Michael Crichton? I seriously doubt it. Heck, the man’s been off the radar of the SF community for years.

Mt recommendation is — Stephen King. He’s hopelessly popular, and I’ve read the opinions of college professors who hate that students list him as one of their favorite writers. But the man sells in the unbelievably high numbers, and has, to my mind, an unparalleled ear for “real” dialogue and middle-class culture. Charles Dickens had the same problems – but he’s still read, and not just for “A Christmas Carol”. Mark Twain was dismissed as a mere humorist, but he’s still healthily in print. e’ll see if King can survive his bypassed cultural references an survive.
I’m not saying he’s a Great Writer, understand, but that’s not a requirement for getting into the Classics section. “The Great Writers are wine,” wrote Twain. “My books are ater. But everyone drinks water.”

Margaret Atwood

Dick Francis – he’s come back stronger than ever since his brief retirement.

Look, Stephen King has had stories in the New Yorker. Twice. That’s as as good a literary bona fide as anything. And I think there’s a good chance that you’re right about King.

well dickens, twain, and others are widely read in schools is because
a) they’re good reads
b) they offer unique historical perspectives
c) they often have kids as the protagonist

this is why i said sebold. the lovely bones features a girl, deals with issues that transcend time and yet offers a uniquely 20th century perspective, and it’s also a straight forward read. i don’t think king’s stories, outside of unique storylines, offers enough substance. what great truths can you assign an essay on for his stories? what free-writing assignments can you offer up for crichton, or king, or rowling?

(i mentioned those 3 in irony. however, harry potter is CURRENTLY on a lot of summer reading lists for middle schools).

I came in here to say this. Someday he’ll be shelved with Poe and Lovecraft, mark my words.

I’m not terribly up to date on my literature, but Dave Eggers maybe?

Stephen King, yes. But I think it will be one of those things where he won’t be considered Classic until everyone who lived while he is alive is dead… if that makes sense. When there comes a time when SK has no living contemporaries, then he’ll be added to the Classics shelf.

I would also guess:
Sherman Alexie
Ian McEwan
Paul Auster
Nick Hornsby (possibly)
Junot Diaz
Colson Whitehead

It bothers me that everyone who came up on my list is a man … I do read a lot of women writers as well, I’m sure I’m blanking on some who would make my list. And the two I thought of, Louise Erdrich and Margaret Atwood, I think are already considered “contemporary classics” (likewise Philip Roth).

I think Tom Wolfe is the modern day Dickens. But I don’t think his books are going to be read in schools in the future, because they’re simply too raunchy. Unless there’s a big change in attitudes towards profanity and sexuality, you’re not going to see Bonfire of the Vanities assigned to middle schoolers or even high schoolers.