There’s something a little bit strange about Midwestern literature — no one seems to have much of a handle on it. Any avid reader can easily rattle off a host of Great Southern Writers, books about New York, and their favorite Westerns, but no one really talks about America’s heartland as having its own literary tradition. However, with Patrick Somerville’s newest novel This Bright River, a gorgeous, stirring novel set in St. Helens, Wisconsin, hitting the shelves this week, we thought we’d take a look into some of the best literature of the flyover states, at least in our own humble opinion. Click through to check out our list, and let us know which Midwestern books you’d add in the comments.
Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson
Anderson’s classic story cycle has been cited by pretty much everyone as an influence — Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Bradbury, Welty — and for good reason. The stories, set in the fictional small town of Winesburg (based on Anderson’s own hometown of Clyde, Ohio), center around George Willard, who slowly grows from childhood to independence as a cast of wonderful characters swirl around him.