I can't argue with any of the authors listed so far, except for Isabel Allende (who I find kind of lightweight) and John Banville (who I haven't read--but I'll be sure to check him out). If this isn't limited to novelists, I think Pinter and Heaney should get some consideration. I also agree that Rushdie should be on the list of contenders. But if I have to pick one, I go with Philip Roth. He's produced so many great works over such a long period of time. Goodbye Columbus was out in 1959 and Everyman in 2006--both are excellent, and there's so many truly great works in between. And he does everything so well: characters, stories, depth and humor. Plus I think his writing is simply beautiful. Edit: Connemara, what books by Banville would you recommend to start with?