6 Great Examples of Dirty and Gritty American Fiction

In the introduction to the latest (and best issue in quite some time) of Granta, “American Wild,” editor Sigrid Rausing tells a story about hitting the open road across America in the early 1980s and coming to the realization that, “this is America: a genuinely wild land.” The anecdote got us to thinking about books that really capture the raw beauty, as well as the dangers, that America has to offer from sea to shining sea. These are novels that especially evoke mental imagery of broken down towns, large swaths of wilderness, and other places you might not want to get lost in.


Battleborn, Claire Vaye Watkins

“Mirage,” which is listed as “an excerpt from a new project” by Watkins, is one of the standouts of the latest issue of Granta — so this, her debut collection of dark and dusty stories from the American west, has to lead off this list.