The United States is known for the breadth of diversity in its literature – take a literary tour round the states with these fifty novels.

 

Alabama Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg (1987)

This now-classic novel charts the history of small-town Whistle Stop, Alabama and its eccentric citizens. Harper Lee, considered by many to be the quintessential Alabama novelist, praised it as “a richly comic, poignant narrative.”

Alaska – The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (2007)

In this alternative history novel, the US government has provided land in Alaska as refugee settlements for European Jews during WWII. Michael Chabon takes this premise as a launching-pad to create a fictional Yiddish-speaking Alaskan metropolis as the background for his bizarre detective story.

Arizona – Warlock by Oakley Hall (1958)

Inspired by the mythologized events of the 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, Oakley Hall’s novel subtly dispels and blurs the binary division between hero and villain. It is a favorite of Thomas Pynchon, who described it as “one of our best American novels.”

Arkansas – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)

This autobiographical novel was one of the first to utilize techniques common to fiction within the autobiography genre, and was hugely influential. The book covers the life of the young Marguerite Johnson from childhood to 17 years old, focusing the bulk of the narrative on her early years in Stamps, Arkansas.

California – Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson (1884)

Helen Hunt Jackson hoped her novel would do for Native Americans what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for African Americans. The book was a huge commercial success and it has never been out of print since. In fact, Southern California saw an increase in tourism after the novel’s release, because so many visitors wanted to see the landmarks associated with the story.

 

Christian Kriticos