Not all my favorite authors are still alive. I must confess, one of my favorite authors has been dead for some time now. But her work still resonates with me, deeply. And I think she is much overlooked, except, perhaps, by the feminist readers who have been pointed in her direction. I am writing, of course, about Kate Chopin.
If you are new to her work, you should start with a short story or two. She's written close to a hundred of them. I highly recommend The Story Of An Hour. It was the story by which I first discovered her. You can read it here. I think it perfectly captures the life of many women, not just in a time before women had the right to vote, but even today. And her irony is pitch perfect. My favorite novel is The Awakening. If The Story Of An Hour appeals to you, you really must read The Awakening. It's simply divine.