Take a literary tour of the United States with this 5 part series of 50 States, 50 Novels

50 States, 50 Novels- Part 3

The United States is known for the breadth of diversity in its literature – take a literary tour round the states with these fifty novels. Check out part 1 and part 2 to explore Alabama through Maryland. Read on for novels set in Massachusetts through New Jersey.

Massachusetts – Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1911)

This tragic tale, told through a foreboding frame narrative, is uncharacteristic of much of Edith Wharton’s most famous work, but is nonetheless one of her most powerful novels. It is set in the fictional town of Starkfield, Massachusetts, which was likely based at least in part on Lenox, Massachusetts, where she was living at the time.

Michigan – The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (1993)

Jeffrey Eugenides quickly became one of the most popular literary novelists in America after the release of The Virgin Suicides, his debut novel which revolves around the lives of five sisters in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Minnesota – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor (1985)

Garrison Keillor’s love letter to small town heartland America has gone on to become a classic. The fictional town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota originated in Keillor’s popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion, and has spawned numerous novels, of which Lake Wobegon Days is the first.

Mississippi – The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929)

Faulkner set many of his novels in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, including The Sound and Fury, which is not only considered one of his best, but also one of the greatest American novels ever written.

Missouri – Stoner by John Williams (1965)

This beautiful novel charts the entire lifetime of its title character William Stoner, and his rise from Missouri farm boy to university professor and esteemed academic. Despite this dramatic rise, Stoner’s life remains one tinged with sadness and uncertainty.

Montana – Fools Crow by James Welch (1986)

This historical novel tells the story of a Native American tribe known as the Lone Eaters, charting their struggle for a right to live from the end of the Civil War till the 1870 Marias Massacre.

Nebraska – My Ántonia by Willa Cather (1918)

The quintessential Nebraskan novelist, Willa Cather, reveals both the beauty and difficulty of life on the Great Plains in My Ántonia, a novel which many critics and fans consider to be her greatest.

Nevada – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (1971)

Hunter S. Thompson’s “Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream” peels back the veneer of glitz and glamor coating the famous City of Lights to reveal the Sin City beneath, in this sometimes hilarious, sometimes brutal critique on 20th Century American ideals.

New Hampshire – A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (1989)

For this New England family epic, John Irving drew inspiration from his own childhood in New Hampshire, as well as from Nobel Prize-winner Günter Grass’ novel The Tin Drum.

New Jersey – The Sportswriter by Richard Ford (1986)

The first novel in Richard Ford’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Frank Bascombe tetralogy, The Sportswriter introduced readers to the troubled New Jersey real estate agent who would become one of the most enduring characters in 20th and 21st Century American literature.

Want to continue your literary tour of the country? Check out this post to explore Alabama through Georgia, and this post for books set in Hawaii through Maryland. Check back soon for more states!

-Christian Kriticos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content