Here are a few descriptions/reviews I wrote up about my favorite authors and some of their books. Enjoy!
Barbara Kingsolver - Her characters are so interesting and funny, and usually very witty. She has a huge heart and you can tell she cares about her characters and people in general. The characters often endure excruciating trials, but always come out better for it. After reading one of her books, I feel warm and rewarded and glad I read it. There is usually deep and complex social issues at play, and you can tell she sees the world in a very nuanced way. She herself doesn't seem to have the answers to these issues - she never forces her opinion down her throat - rather, she explores issues through her characters.
Mary Gaitskill - She has an amazing way of describing odd human emotion and experience so sharply and accurately that the reader feels understood. Even if you're not experiencing/haven't experienced the particular emotion/experience she's writing about, you can't help but feel validated by her ability to put into words what every person constantly struggles to put into words. Her characters are always odd, wounded people, who seem to always be searching for something that's out of reach. Her writing leaves me feeling slightly raw and cold, like sitting too long in wet clothing. (Does that make sense? Maybe.)
Wally Lamb - His characters are usually these very complicated men. You want to like them, and you usually do, but sometimes they can be real a-holes. You always end up rooting for them, and watching their emotional growth is so rewarding. Reading I Know This Much Is True got me through a rough patch in my life.
Haruki Murakami - Even though I've only read one of his books (The Windup Bird Chronicle), reading the book made me feel very introspective, calm, and made me yearn for intellectual pursuit, and that in and of itself launched him into my list of top authors. The narrator is this amazingly sharp, thoughtful, calm man, who recounts his story, infused the supernatural and extraordinary, in such a calm, practical, precise and detailed way, that you can't help believing that is exactly what happened. :) Murakami brings 1980's Japan to life, and you feel like you're there, even if you've never been. Cool stuff about early PC's, too.