Hawaii – From Here to Eternity by James Jones (1951)
This gigantic debut novel was based upon James Jones’ own experiences as a soldier stationed in Hawaii during WWII. It won the National Book Award after it was released and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film starring Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra.
Idaho – Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1980)
Set in the fictional town of Fingerbone, Idaho, Marilynne Robinson’s debut novel tells the story of a pair of sisters who are raised by a series of eccentric relatives, and their attempts to develop a sense of family and home. One of Time magazine’s 100 Best English Language Novels 1923 to 2005.
Illinois – The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1906)
One of only a handful of American novels to have an impact on government legislation, Upton Sinclair’s book on the appalling conditions within the meat industry led to the passage of new food safety laws. Even so, Sinclair felt that most readers missed the novel’s true message, stating “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
Indiana – A Girl of Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter (1909)
A classic of Indiana literature, Gene Stratton-Porter’s most popular novel is set in and around Limberlost Swamp. Stratton-Porter was a renowned naturalist as well as a skilled writer, so it is unsurprising that this novel tackles environmental themes, making it one of the earliest American novels to overtly do so.
Iowa – Miss Macintosh, My Darling by Marguerite Young (1965)
One of the longest American novels ever written, Miss Macintosh, My Darling took Marguerite Young over fifteen years to complete. The titular Miss Mactintosh comes from What Cheer, Iowa, a place name Young thought she had made up, only to find out later that it was a real place.