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Top 10 International Fiction Authors

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris Forget about computers and the worldwide web, we're talking books and being worldwide read. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 international fiction authors. For this list, we've looked at any author writing primarily in a language other than English, and especially at those authors who have had their works translated into English. For lists looking more specifically at classic English authors or popular writers, be sure to check out our alternative videos on those topics. Special thanks to our user Martin Acoustics12 for submitting this idea on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 International Fiction Authors


Forget about computers and the worldwide web, we’re talking books and being worldwide read. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 international fiction authors.

For this list, we’ve looked at any author writing primarily in a language other than English, and especially at those authors who have had their works translated into English. For lists looking more specifically at classic English authors or popular writers, be sure to check out our alternative videos on those topics.

#10: Franz Kafka

Born in Prague, fluent in Czech, but predominantly writing in German, Franz Kafka is widely considered one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. The mind behind “The Metamorphosis,” as well as such notable novels as “The Trial” and “The Castle,” created stories filled with psychological difficulties, fraught relationships and a feeling of existential foreboding. His writing style is so identified with this unique atmosphere that imitators are now described as being ‘Kafkaesque!’ Not always easy to read, but very well worth it!

#9: Miguel de Cervantes

To Spain next, and to the writer of what is considered by many to be the cornerstone of modern literature. Cervantes was a playwright and a poet, but he will forever be remembered most as the brain behind “Don Quixote.” The story of a man intent on rediscovering the ideals of chivalry in an age that scorns such ideals, it is an epic novel that has been translated into more languages than any other book - besides the Bible! Without question, Cervantes is Spain’s legend of literature!

#8: Anton Chekhov

Our next writer penned only one legitimate full-length novel - “The Shooting Party” - but his prodigious output of short stories and his incisive dramas earn him a spot on our list. Considered one of the most influential dramatists of the modern theatre, his four major plays are produced constantly. His short stories, many of them satirical in tone, are treasured by students of the form. Chekhov believed that an author should ask questions of his audience, rather than answer them, which is perhaps one reason his stories have stood the test of time. Although he lived for just 44 years, his literary legacy has lasted for generations.

#7: Gustave Flaubert

Where an illustrious literary history is concerned, there are few nations to rival France! And our next author has to be considered as one of the greatest wordsmiths that France has ever produced. Flaubert is ever-present on almost any recommended reading list, and with good reason! Best known for his first novel “Madame Bovary,” he is recognised as a pioneer realist and an immeasurable influence over modern narratives. A well-known perfectionist ever-searching for ‘le mot juste’ or the perfect word, one word describes him perfectly - ‘genius’!

#6: Jules Verne

We stay en France with our next writer, although he famously led us all around the world within his work. Jules Verne has taken us “Around the World in Eighty Days,” “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and on a “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” In fact, there are very few places that this man hasn’t explored! Often considered alongside H. G. Wells as a science fiction pioneer, Verne crossed borders and pushed boundaries unlike anyone else!

#5: Honoré de Balzac

A literary giant next, and another Frenchman! Balzac wrote during the early nineteenth century, with the stories and novels collectively called “The Human Comedy” considered his magnum opus! A depiction of French society during the post-Napoleon period, this work is thought of as one of the most astounding literary feats achieved within the modern world. An inspiration for writers as varied as Edgar Allen Poe, Henry James and Charles Dickens, Balzac clearly deserves a place of honor on this list.

#4: Alexandre Dumas

We thought about leaving France, and then we realised that was folly! Dumas is our next continental king of literature, boasting a magnifique bibliography of must-reads! “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers” are Dumas’ defining works, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Publishing over 100,000 pages, his work encompasses novels and novellas, articles and essays! When it comes to classic European literature, we can think of only three better...!

#3: Victor Hugo

Our fifth and final Frenchman, Victor Hugo was one of the foremost artists in the French Romantic movement. A poet first and foremost, he gained huge fame as a novelist and dramatist as he grew older. “Les Misérables,” now well-known from its Broadway musical and film versions, is a masterpiece of literature. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” also adapted into other media, is another classic that enthrals audiences of all eras! A royalist turned republican himself, Hugo expertly captures the page-turning turbulence of nineteenth century French society. Other writers of his era aspired to obtain his level of quality – and so do writers today!

#2: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We head to Russia for our runner-up, and to a man whose stories stripped down and explored the human mind unlike anyone else’s! Novels such as “Crime and Punishment,” “The Idiot” and “The Brothers Karamazov” picked apart the human psyche, getting underneath the skin to reveal the inner lives of his characters. And his 1872 work, “Demons,” did the same to Russian politics of the time! A consistently controversial writer, his bold writing earned him many enemies. As a matter of fact, he was moments away from the firing squad in 1849, before a note from the Tsar saved him! A lucky, ludicrously talented guy!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Émile Zola
- Amélie Nothomb
- Stieg Larsson
- Hans Christian Andersen
- Vladimir Nabokov

#1: Leo Tolstoy

We’ve traversed the globe today, but one Russian follows another as Leo Tolstoy takes the top spot! There’s no doubt about it, reading Tolstoy’s rich, dense novels requires a lengthy commitment - but boy, is it worth it! “War and Peace” is often ranked as the greatest novel ever written, “Anna Karenina” is also often a contender for that accolade, and the extensive back-catalogue of works by this realist could keep us reading for a lifetime! An incredible author, he’s received lavish praise from writers as diverse as Anton Chekhov, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce!

Do you agree with our list? Which author do you like to read? For more top 10s read worldwide published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.



Trivia:
Which of these writers was once condemned to death by firing squad?
Leo Tolstoy
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Correct)
Victor Hugo
Alexandre Dumas
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