11 Best Authors Like Amor Towles For Fans of Literary Fiction

Discover the top authors like Amor Towles, and find the best books to read to learn more about their works.

Amor Towles writes captivating literary fiction that immerses readers in a world of historical fiction. His latest book, A Gentleman in Moscow, takes place over three decades and tells the story of Count Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced to house arrest at the Metropol hotel for the crime of being an unrepentant aristocrat. Towles’s first novel, Rules of Civility, is famously set in 1930s New York island and describes the time in strikingly vivid detail.

In our list, we’ve chosen authors who deploy a similar literary style, challenge us with their ideas, and write with as much style and erudition as Towles. If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll also love our guide with the best political fiction authors!

Here Are The Best Authors Like Amor Towles

1. Kate Atkinson, 1951 – Present

Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson signing books at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2007

If you’re a fan of Amor Towles’s rich use of language and evocative description of place and character, then you’ll enjoy the novels of English writer Kate Atinkson, MBE. Atkinson is best known for her Jackson Brodie series, successfully adapted for the BBC. Critically acclaimed and loved by reviewers and general readers alike, Atkinson’s books have picked up many prizes, including the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year Prize and the 2013 and 2015 Costa Book Awards.

“The beginning is the word and the end is silence. And in between are all the stories.”

Kate Atkinson, Human Croquet
Case Histories: A Novel (Jackson Brodie Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Atkinson, Kate (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 434 Pages - 10/15/2007 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

2. Julian Barnes, 1946 – Present

Julian Barnes
Julian Barnes at the HeadRead literary festival in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2019

Julian Barnes is an English novelist who has also published collections of short stories and essays. As well as being awarded the Man Booker prize in 2011 for his novel The Sense of an Ending, Barnes has also received the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the Jerusalem Prize. In 2004, Barnes was made a Commandeur of  L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature.”

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending
  • Barnes, Julian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 163 Pages - 05/29/2012 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

3. Colson Whitehead, 1969 – Present

Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead attending the 2014 Texas Book festival

Colson Whitehead’s books must be added to your ‘to read’ list if you relish how Amor Towles can bring a past era to life. The American novelist has written eight novels and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice: once in 2017 for The Underground Railroad and again in 2020 for The Nickel Boys. The latter’s narrative shifts between the present day and the 1960s, Jim Crow-era Florida, to tell the story of boys suffering violent abuse at a reform school, having committed minor crimes.

“We must believe in our souls that we are somebody, that we are significant, that we are worthful, and we must walk the streets of life every day with this sense of dignity and this sense of somebody-ness.”

Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys
The Nickel Boys: A Novel
  • Whitehead, Colson (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 06/30/2020 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

4. Ann Patchett, 1963 – Present

Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett signing books at the 2014 Miami Book Fair International

Ann Patchett’s works of literary fiction have been translated into more than thirty languages, and in 2014 she was awarded the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement. Patchett is perhaps best known for her 2019 novel, The Dutch House, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize. The book tells the story of two siblings who grow up in a mansion house and how their lives unspool over five decades.

“There are a few times in life when you leap up and the past that you’d been standing on falls away behind you, and the future you mean to land on is not yet in place, and for a moment, you’re suspended knowing nothing and no one, not even yourself.”

Ann Patchett, The Dutch House
The Dutch House: A Read with Jenna Pick
  • Hardcover Book
  • Patchett, Ann (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 09/24/2019 (Publication Date) - Harper (Publisher)

5. Jess Walter, 1965 – Present

Jess Walter
A photo of Jess Walter at home in 2009

Amor Towles is adept at recreating the zeitgeist of a particular era and place, and this is a talent shared by American author Jess Walter, who writes beautiful novels that are both satirical and highly moving. Citizen Vice, published in 2005, won the Edgar Allan Poe award for Best Novel the following year. The Cold Millions, published in 2020, is set against the backdrop of early twentieth-century America. It tells the story of a pair of brothers who must live by their wits, navigating through a newly class-obsessed society. 

“I think he came to believe it was better to choose your life, and that even choosing your death was better than letting someone else choose your life.”

Jess Walter, The Cold Millions
The Cold Millions: A Novel
  • Walter, Jess (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 10/05/2021 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)

6. Ishmael Reed, 1938 – Present

Ishmael Reed
Ishmael Reed at the San Francisco Public Library in 2019

Famed for his work that broadly challenges American culture, Ishmael Reed is a novelist, poet, playwright, songwriter, composer, editor, and publisher. Reed’s novels are often written from the perspective of neglected African and African-American narratives, and he has advocated tirelessly for underrepresented peoples throughout his life. Mumbo Jumbo, published in 1972, is Reed’s best-known work: sprawling and non-conformist. The story is set in New York in the 1920s.

“Dance is the universal art, the common joy of expression. Those who cannot dance are imprisoned in their own ego and cannot live well with other people and the world.”

Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
Mumbo Jumbo: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Reed, Ishmael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 226 Pages - 01/29/2013 (Publication Date) - Open Road Media (Publisher)

7. Don Winslow, 1953 – Present

Don Winslow
Don Winslow attending a presentation of his novel, The Cartel, in Madrid in October 2015

This multi-award-winning American author is the pen behind novels including The Force and Savages and the best-selling Cartel trilogy. The Cartel series was widely commended by readers and critics alike; the final book in the trilogy, The Border, was named one of the best books of the year by publications including The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. Winslow retired from his writing career in 2022 to focus on his political activism work.

“Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but it can rent it for a long time.”

Don Winslow, The Cartel
The Cartel (Power of the Dog Series)
  • Winslow, Don (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 768 Pages - 09/26/2017 (Publication Date) - Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (Publisher)

8. Muriel Barbery, 1969 – Present

Muriel Barbery
A photo of Muriel Barbery in 2009

Like Amor Towles, the French author and philosopher Muriel Barbery writes richly, and her work explores the subtleties of social convention, class, and culture. The Elegance of the Hedgehog sold over a million copies shortly after its publication in 2006 and topped the French bestseller lists for thirty consecutive weeks. The novel was named the Washington Post Best Book of the Year, the Barnes and Noble Best Book of the Year, and the Chicago-Sun Times Favorite Book of the Year.

“I thought: pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language.”

Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
  • Great product!
  • Barbery, Muriel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 325 Pages - 09/02/2008 (Publication Date) - Europa Editions (Publisher)

9. Jane Smiley, 1949 – Present

Jane Smiley
Jane Smiley attending the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas, in 2009

The critically-acclaimed American novelist Jane Smiley received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel A Thousand Acres in 1992 and was awarded the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Smiley was appointed Chair of the Man Booker prize judging panel in 2009. The author has an MFA and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Iceland while working towards her doctorate.

“The fact is that the same sequence of days can arrange themselves into a number of different stories.”

Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
A Thousand Acres: A Novel
  • Smiley, Jane (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 12/02/2003 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

10. Julian Fellowes, 1949 – Present

Julian Fellowes
Julian Fellowes sitting for an official portrait in his capacity as Lord Fellowes of West Stafford

Readers who appreciate the astute socio-political commentary of Amor Towles’s novels will enjoy the work of the British author Julian Fellowes. The author and former theater actor is now best known as the creator, writer, and executive producer of the multi-award-winning popular smash tv show Downton Abbey. Fellowes’ 2004 novel, Snobs, lifted the lid on the British upper classes, exploring this rarified rank’s social nuances and interactions, and was a Sunday Times bestseller.

“Leave three Englishmen in a room and they will invent a rule that prevents a fourth joining them.”

Julian Fellowes, Snobs
Snobs: A Novel
  • Fellowes, Julian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 05/08/2012 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Griffin (Publisher)

11. Erik Larson, 1954 – Present

Erik Larson
Erik Larson speaking at the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library in 2007

American journalist Erik Larson has published several well-received non-fiction books, such as  The Devil in the White City, and released his first work of fiction, No One Goes Alone, in audiobook form only in 2021. As in many of Amor Towles’s novels, what lies beneath the surface of the ‘known’ provides much of the story’s tension. No One Goes Alone is a ghost story with deep roots in history and features a cast of characters based on real people. Looking for more? Check out our guide with the best science fiction authors!

“It was so easy to disappear, so easy to deny knowledge, so very easy in the smoke and din to mask that something dark had taken root. This was Chicago, on the eve of the greatest fair in history.”

Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City

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  • Melanie Smith is a freelance content and creative writer from Gloucestershire, UK, where she lives with her daughter, long-suffering partner, and cat, The Magical Mr. Bobo. Her blog posts and articles feature regularly in magazines and websites around the world.