50 States, 50 Novels – Part 10

VirginiaLie Down in Darkness by William Styron (1951)

Published when he was just 26 years old, William Styron’s first novel immediately launched him to literary fame, receiving extremely enthusiastic reviews. Following the dysfunctional Loftis family, this Virginia-set novel borrowed numerous elements from Styron’s childhood hometown in Newport News, Virginia.

WashingtonThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)

Sherman Alexie’s first foray into young adult fiction recently received the distinct honor of being named the most frequently challenged book of 2014. However, the controversy, like so many censorship crusades, has only served to further raise the profile of this National Book Award-winner, which is written from the perspective of a 14 year old Native American as he documents his high school struggles.

West VirginiaShiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (1991)

One of the most successful children’s novels of the past three decades, this story documents the friendship between a young boy and a dog, in the charmingly named town of Friendly, West Virginia.

WisconsinRascal by Sterling North (1963)

Sterling North’s autobiographical children’s novel documents the difficulty of his family life and his unlikely friendship with a raccoon in Edgerton, Wisconsin. North’s childhood home, the setting for the novel, is still preserved to this day as museum open to the public.

WyomingThe Virginian by Owen Wister (1902)

Despite its title, this novel is set entirely in Wyoming, opening with the arrival of the titular Virginian. It is widely considered to be the first complete novel written in the Western genre, and was also the source material for one of legendary director Cecil B. DeMille’s very first films.

-Christian Kriticos

How many states have you ‘visited’ on this literary tour? Let us know if agree with these choices!

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