10 Best Authors Like Tom Robbins to Add to Your Book List

Check out our list of the best authors like Tom Robbins – ideal for fans of satirical, social commentary novels.

Born in 1932, Tom Robbins is a best-selling American author known primarily for his comedy-drama novels, dark undertones, and satirical writing that looks at social concerns. Robbins grew up in North Carolina and entered the Air Force in 1953, where he served as a meteorologist in the Korean War. After his discharge, he enrolled in the Richmond Professional Institute to study writing, then became a copy editor for a newspaper. 

In 1962, Robbins moved to Seattle to earn his master’s degree and work for the Seattle Times as an art critic. It was not until 1966 that he finally started his first novel, Another Roadside Attraction, published in 1971. Soon, his fame as a novelist became well-known, and he went on to publish nine total novels. His best works include Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Jitterbug Perfume, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, and Still Life with Woodpecker.

In 2000, Writer’s Digest named him one of the 100 Best Writers of the 20th Century, and in 2012 the Library of Virginia awarded him the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award. If you’re interested in this topic, you might also enjoy our essays about happiness!

Best Authors Like Tom Robbins Ranked

1. Chuck Palahniuk, 1962 –

Authors like Chuck Palahniuk
Photo of author Chuck Palahniuk

Charles Palahnuik, better known as Chuck Palahniuk, is an American novelist with 19 novels to his name. Born in Washington, he attended the University of Oregon to study journalism. After graduating in 1986, he went to work for the local newspaper and then worked as a diesel mechanic while waiting for his writing career to take off. In his mid-30s, he started writing fiction and wrote Invisible Monsters first. All potential publishers rejected this book, so he turned his attention to Fight ClubThis became his first novel and was published in 1996.

Three years later, the film adaptation of the book was released. Though both the book and the novel didn’t do well at first, they gained a following later, and two more editions of the novel have been released since then. Palahnuik continued writing and won several awards, including the Oregon Book Award for Best Novel and two Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Awards.

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

2. Kurt Vonnegut, 1922 – 2007

Kurt Vonnegut
Photo of author Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut was an American writer who wrote satirical novels with dark humor. As a child, Vonnegut was raised in Indianapolis, and when World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Army. His training sent him to study engineering at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. When he was deployed, he was captured by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. After his release, he finished his education at the University of Chicago, working as a night reporter for a local newspaper.

In 1952 he published Player Piano, his first novel, but it was not a commercial success. As he continued writing, he began to get noticed. His 1959 novel The Sirens of Titan and his 1963 novel Cat’s Cradle were nominated for the Hugo Award for best science fiction or fantasy novel. It wasn’t until his sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, that he found commercial success. The book’s anti-war sentiment shot it to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, and he became famous as an author.

“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

3. Carl Hiaasen, 1953 – 

Carl Hiaasen
Photo of author Carl Hiaasen

American journalist and novelist Carl Hiaasen writes novels for adults and younger readers. Hiaasen graduated from the University of Florida and started writing for the Miami Herald immediately after graduation. His opinion column was quite popular, and its sarcasm and humor eventually made their way into his novels.

In the early 1980s, he started writing novels with William D. Montalbano until 1986, when he published Tourist Season, his first solo novel. The book was successful, and he continued writing fiction works with a similar dark style. All his books are set in Florida, where he has lived all his life. To date, his books have been published in 34 languages. Strip Tease is one of his best-known works, and it became a motion picture.

“But Erin let it slide. The child was only four years old; she had a whole lifetime to learn about sadness. Today was for Dalmatians, ice cream and new dolls.”

Carl Hiaasen, Strip Tease

4. John Irving, 1942 –

John Irving
Photo of author John Irving

A successful novelist and screenwriter, John Irving became an international success after the publication of The World According to Garp in 1978. The prolific author attended the University of New Hampshire and the University of Iowa and published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. Though his early novels were well-received, they didn’t sell enough for him to live on, and he started teaching English at Mouth Holyoke College.

When his fourth novel, The World According to Garp, became a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, he could focus entirely on writing. Several of his books have become films, including his 1985 novel The Cinder House Rules and his 1981 novel The Hotel New Hampshire. The screenplay for The Cinder House Rules won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1999.

“What is hardest to accept about the passage of time is that the people who once mattered the most to us wind up in parentheses.”

John Irving, The Cinder House Rules

5. Richard Brautigan, 1935 – 1984

Richard Brautigan
Photo of author Richard Brautigan

Born in Washington state, Richard Brautigan was an only child of working-class parents. Raised in poverty, Brautigan sometimes struggled to find enough to eat, and this struggle shows up in his novel So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away, his final novel published in 1982. As a young adult, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and clinical depression, and it was while he was institutionalized for treatment that he started writing.

Though this book was never published, it created a love for writing, and in 1957 he published The Return of the Rivers, his first book. Trout Fishing in America, his 1961 novel, was his first commercial success. Throughout his career, he experimented with different literary genres, publishing poetry collections, novels, and short stories.

“He created his own Kool-Aid reality and was able to illuminate himself by it.”

Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America

6. Tom Wolfe, 1930 – 2018

Tom Wolfe
Photo of author Tom Wolfe

Born in Virginia, Tom Wolfe was an American author who became famous first as a journalist and then as a novelist. Wolfe wrote his first novel, The Bonfire of Vanities, in 1987, and it was an instant success. Throughout his career, he wrote both non-fiction and fiction works, including several essays published as books that embraced the New Journalism technique of the 1960s and 1970s. Wolfe earned many awards throughout his career, including a National Book Award, the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence, and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

“The Yanks always wore neckties that leapt out in front of their shirts, as if to announce the awkwardness to follow.”

Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of Vanities

7. Isabel Allende, 1942 –

Isabel Allende
Photo of author Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende is from Lima, Peru, and is one of the most widely-read authors who writes in Spanish. As a young woman, Allende worked for the United Nations in Santiago and Europe while also spending some time translating romance novels from English into her native language.

In the 1970s, she spent some time in exile in Venezuela after receiving death threats for her work arranging safe passage for people who were against the government in Chile. This is where she began writing, starting with The House of the Spirits, published in 1982. While in Venezuela, she worked as a journalist for El Nacional. Allende has won multiple awards for her body of work, including the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2018 and the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature in 1996.

“She did not believe that the world was a vale of tears but rather a joke that God had played and that it was idiotic to take it seriously.”

Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits

8. Neil Gaiman, 1960 –

Neil Gaiman
Photo of author Neil Gaiman

English author Neil Gaiman is known for his dark fantasy novels and comic books. The creator of The Sandman comic book series, he started writing as a journalist in the 1980s, interviewing authors in the hopes that he would learn what it took to become one. Gaiman’s first commercial successes were in the comic book genre, but in 1990 he published his first novel, Good Omens, in collaboration with Terry Pratchett. American Gods, his 2001 novel, was his best-selling work, and it won multiple awards after its publication. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, his 2013 novel, was voted Book of the Year by the British National Book Awards.

“Books were safer than other people anyway.”

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Sale
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel
  • Gaiman, Neil (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 05/18/2021 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

9. Hunter S. Thompson, 1937 – 2005

Hunter S. Thompson
Photo of author Hunter S. Thompson

Born in Kentucky, Hunter S. Thompson was a journalist and author known for his book Hell’s Angels, published in 1967. After the success of this book, Thompson started selling stories to magazines, including The New York Times and Esquire. In 1971, Sports Illustrated asked him to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Nevada. This trip led to the publication of a fiction work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, published in 1972.

Thompson continued writing books up until his death in 2005. As a journalist, he was responsible for the Gonzo journalism movement. This journalistic style involved reporting without objectivity and using the author as the first-person narrator of a piece.

“It was obvious that he was a man who marched through life to the rhythms of some drum I would never hear.”

Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels
Hell's Angels
  • Thompson, Hunter Stockton (Author)
  • French (Publication Language)
  • 348 Pages - 04/06/2000 (Publication Date) - ROBERT LAFFONT (Publisher)

10. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927 – 2014

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Photo of author Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Columbia, and like many authors on this list, he started his career as a journalist before moving into working on non-fiction works and short stories, but it was his novel that made him a well-known name. Through his books, he made the genre of magic realism popular, and many consider him one of the most significant Spanish-language authors of the 20th century.

In 1972 he won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and in 1982 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. One Hundred Years of Solitude, his 1967 novel, was one of his most popular and the reason he won the Nobel Prize. Love in the Time of Cholera, his 1985 novel, is another famous fiction work from this author.

“He really had been through death, but he had returned because he could not bear the solitude.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Sale
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 417 Pages - 02/21/2006 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial Modern Classics (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of essays about culture and identity!

Author

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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