The Great Novels of the Millennium (So Far)

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Each generation has its voice. For the Lost Generation, it was Hemingway. For the Silent Generation, John Updike. The Baby Boomers had Jonathan Franzen and Generation X had Bret Easton Ellis. But who are the great millennial writers and, by extension, what are the great millennial novels? I’ve collected eight of millennials’ best novels – so far – for you to add to your TBR.

but waityou must be asking yourself, Isn’t it a little early to declare which are the great novels of the millennium? Have millennials really had enough time to find their voices?

I’m so glad you asked. Despite the constant infantilization of our generation’s society, the oldest of the oldest millennials has already passed the 40-year mark. We are more likely to read than almost any other generation in the US, and several respected novelists – including Maya Angelou, Ken Kesey, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison and Donna Tartt – published their first books when they were the same age. what millennials are today.

So believe me, we’ve had a lot of time to find our voices. That in itself is incredible considering the number of catastrophes – including climate change, school shootings, economic crises and endless wars – that have defined our lives so far. We overcome and discover who we are as a generation. After reading some of the great novels of the millennium, I think you’ll agree.

The Great Novels of the Millennium (So Far)

The New Me by Halle Butler

Jia Tolentino dubbed this “a definitive work of millennial literature”, and I have to agree. The story here revolves around Millie, a 30-year-old temporary worker whose star finally appears to be on the rise. Landing a permanent position should come with all the perks possible – including getting out of her shitty apartment – but is Millie chasing a dream of a world that no longer exists?

Mary HK Choi's Gem book cover

Mary HK Choi’s Gem

In this YA novel, sisters Jayne and June Baek do not speak to each other, and yet they cannot escape each other. Both moved to New York to pursue their dreams, albeit separately. June doesn’t want to be pulled into Jayne’s drama. Jayne doesn’t want her big sister breathing down her neck. But when a health crisis leads June to steal Jayne’s identity, the two young women are reunited. Whether you’re the hot mess or the golden child in your family, you’ll find the Baek hella sisters relatable.

Fuccboi book cover by Sean Thor Conroe

Fuccboi by Sean Thor Conroe

Philadelphia, 2018. Sean has lived the kind of ping pong life that so many Millennials face, jumping from one failed start to another and just surviving. He is currently making deliveries for a living as he tries to kick-start his writing career. Writing is difficult, but it’s Sean’s incorrigible slutty that’s the real obstacle. Can the eponymous fuccboi redeem himself or is he doomed never to throw himself? Written as the best, most frantic conversation you’ll ever have with your best friend, this premiere exposes the raw nerves of millennial manhood.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi book cover

Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Realm

In her follow-up to the lauded Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi tackles issues important to many Millennials, including education, religion, addiction, mental illness, and bereavement. Here, we meet Gifty, a doctoral candidate and daughter of Ghanaian American immigrants, who struggles to reconcile what she learned in school with her lived experiences. Still mourning the loss of her brother to a drug overdose and unable to help her mother recover from her depression, Gifty is caught up in a furious search for clues to the source of her family’s problems in transcendent realm.

Ling Ma's Separation book cover

Separation by Ling Ma

the buzz for Separation it was still high when the pandemic hit, so chances are you’ve already read this post-apocalyptic millennium novel. Ling Ma’s satirical novel centers on Candace, a young office worker who finds herself almost entirely alone in New York City after a zombie plague kills most of the city’s residents. Candace and some of her co-workers continue to do their regular jobs as the world ends around her, leaving readers wondering what the difference between human and zombie really is.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation book cover

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

If there’s one thing that’s true about Millennials, it’s that we’re all always in need of a break. Enter Ottessa Moshfegh’s house My year of rest and relaxation. Focusing on an older millennial heiress who built a small life for herself in the pre-9/11 world, the novel follows its narrator through a long period of self-imposed seclusion and hibernation. The story Moshfegh tells here will resonate with anyone who has ever been asked sarcastically, Do what you have to feel depressed about?

Casey Plett's Little Fish book cover

Little fish by Casey Plett

A Lambda Literary Award Winner, Casey Plett’s Little fish follows Wendy, a trans woman, as she struggles to uncover the truth about her late grandfather’s gender identity. The real story here isn’t Wendy’s deep dive into the past, however. Instead, most of the novel focuses on the day-to-day experiences of Wendy and her group, in a narrative portrait that allows queer people to be just as messed up as their cishet counterparts.

Normal People book cover by Sally Rooney

Normal people by Sally Rooney

You know I couldn’t give you a list of the great novels of the millennium without including this book. Situated in and around Dublin, Normal people centers on two young men, Connell and Marianne, whose secret relationship ends very quickly, thanks to a series of miscommunications. Normal people it’s like trying to tell your best friend about all the things he’s misunderstood about a partner, and it will make you question your own interpersonal histories.


If you enjoyed this list of great millennial novels, check out this essay on “lazy fiction” and this list of classic books rewritten as clickbait for millennials.

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