As far as modern authors go, my taste changes from day to day. The best novel I've read lately is White Tiger by an author with a very difficult name - sorry. I've never seen anything else he has written but I'm hopeful that I'll find something soon. It's going to have to say "by the author or White Tiger" on the cover or I'll miss it.
My favorite of all time is Herman Melville. I particularly like the canibals and island adventures in Typee & Omoo. I have to say that as far as literary genius goes, these aren't his best efforts, but they are a rollicking good time.