Entertainment/Novels - USA

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Kathy Acker was an experimental novelist

Blood and Guts in High School (1984) – is the story of Janey Smith, a ten-year-old American girl living in Mexico, who departs to the US to live on her own. She has an incestuous sexual relationship with her father.

James Agee - A Death in the Family (1957) is an autobiographical novel. Agee won a posthumous 1958 Pulitzer Prize for the novel.

Mitch Albom - The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2003) is a novel that follows the life and death of Eddie who is killed in an amusement park accident and sent to heaven, where he encounters five people who had a significant impact on him while he was alive.

Paul Auster is an American author known for works blending absurdism and crime fiction.

The New York Trilogy (1987) is a series of mystery novels (City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room).

Moon Palace (1989) – is a picaresque novel that centres on the life of Marco Stanley Fogg.

The Music of Chance (1990) – is an absurdist novel about two men who lose everything in a poker game.

Richard Bach - Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970) is a novella about a seagull who is trying to learn about life and flight.

James Baldwin

Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) – is a semi-autobiographical novel. Tells the story of John Grimes, a teenager from Harlem, and the role of the Pentecostal Church in the lives of African Americans.

If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) – is the first novel by Baldwin to focus exclusively on a Black love story. Title is taken from the W.C. Handy song Beale Street Blues. Adapted into a film in 2018.

David Baldacci - Absolute Power (1996) debut novel. A burglar witnesses the murder of a woman by Secret Service agents. Adapted into a 1997 film.

Saul Bellow was born in Canada. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976.

The Adventures of Augie March (1953) – is a Bildungsroman, following the title character as he grows up during the Great Depression.

Seize the Day (1956) – concerns one day in the life of failed actor William Adler.

Henderson the Rain King (1959) – tells the story of Eugene Henderson who travels to Africa looking for spiritual contentment.

Herzog (1964) – follows five days in the life of Moses Herzog who is having a midlife crisis.

Humboldt’s Gift – explores the changing relationship of art and power in a materialist America. Won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Peter Benchley

Jaws (1974) – tells the story of a great white shark that preys on the fictional Long Island resort town of Amity. Shark hunter Quint, police chief Brody, and marine biologist Hooper set out on Quint's boat, the Orca, to hunt the shark. Adapted into a 1975 Steven Spielberg film.

The Deep (1976) – concerns two amateur treasure-hunting divers who inadvertently discover the secret cargo of a World War II shipwreck off Bermuda.

The Island (1979) – A journalist and his son are captured by a group of pirates who live on an uncharted Caribbean island.

Stephen Vincent Benét - wrote the short stories The Devil and Daniel Webster and By the Waters of Babylon. His short story The Sobbin' Women was adapted into the screen and stage musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Paul Bowles - The Sheltering Sky (1949) is a novel about a couple who journey to North Africa in the hopes of rekindling their marriage but fall prey to the dangers that surround them.

T(homas) C(oraghessan) Boyle

The Road to Wellville (1993) – is set in Battle Creek, Michigan, and includes a historical fictionalization of John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of corn flakes.

For other works by this author see: Historical Fiction

Richard Brautigan

A Confederate General from Big Sur (1964) – first published novel.

Trout Fishing in America (1967) – is an abstract book without a clear central storyline.

In Watermelon Sugar (1968) – is a post-apocalyptic novel set in a commune where things are made of watermelon sugar. The central house in the commune is named iDEATH.

The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western (1974) – as the subtitle suggests, the novel is a combination of gothic and western genres.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Dan Brown is best known for the series of Robert Langdon novels.

Digital Fortress (1998) – debut novel. Explores the theme of government surveillance of individual’s private data.

Angels and Demons (2000) – introduces the character Robert Langdon, a Harvard University professor of history of art and ‘symbology’, as he deciphers clues involving the secrets of the Catholic Church.

The Da Vinci Code (2003) – follows Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu after a murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris leads them to uncover the mystery behind Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail.

The Lost Symbol (2009) – is set in Washington. Langdon attempts to uncover the truth about the Freemasons.

Inferno (2013) – set in Italy, Langdon is called in to interpret messages based on the work of Dante.

Origin (2017) – Edmund Kirsch, a former student of Langdon, claims to have made a discovery that will end the age of religion.

Pearl S(ydenstricker) Buck served as a Presbyterian missionary in China from 1914 to 1932. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938.

The Good Earth – follows family life in a Chinese village in the early 20th century. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1932.

Edgar Rice Burroughs purchased the Otis Ranch in Los Angeles in 1919, built his home there and named it Tarzana Ranch.

Tarzan of the Apes (1912) is the first in a series of 24 books. Tarzan is John Clayton II, the son of Viscount and Lady Greystoke.

For other works by this author see: Science Fiction and Fantasy

William S(eward) Burroughs was a leading figure in the Beat Generation and a heroin addict who was known by the pen name William Lee. He accidentally shot and killed his wife Joan Vollmer Adams in Mexico while trying to shoot a glass off her head.

Junkie (aka Junky) (1953) – debut novel. Semi-autobiographical, it focuses on Burroughs' life as a drug user and dealer.

Queer (1953) – was originally written as an extension of Junkie.

The Naked Lunch (1989) – does not have a clear plot. Narrated by junkie William Lee, who travels from the US to Mexico. The book was banned in some cities in the US.

The Nova Trilogy (1961-1964) - The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, Nova Express. The band Soft Machine is named after the book.

The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead (1971) – is an apocalyptic novel that depicts a homosexual youth movement whose objective is the downfall of civilization.

Erskine Caldwell

Tobacco Road (1932) – depicts a family of poor white tenant farmers in Georgia during the Great Depression.

God’s Little Acre (1933) – deals with a farming family from Georgia who are obsessed with sex and wealth. The sexually explicit scenes were highly controversial.

Truman Capote was a lifelong friend of Harper Lee.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) – is a novella in which an unnamed narrator relates his memories of Holly Golightly. Adapted into a 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn.

In Cold Blood (1965) – is a non-fiction novel inspired by an article in the New York Times in 1959. The story described the unexplained murder of the Clutter family in rural Holcomb, Kansas.

Raymond Carver - Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (1976) – is a short story collection and a foundational text of minimalist fiction.

Willa Cather is known for her novels of life on the Great Plains.

Prairie Trilogy (1913-1918) of novels comprises O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Antonia.

Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) – concerns the attempts of a Catholic bishop and a priest to establish a diocese in New Mexico Territory.

Michael Chabon writes about issues of Jewish identity.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – follows the lives of two Jewish cousins in New York around the time of World War II. Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union (2007) – is an alternative history novel set in a temporary settlement for Jewish refugees in Sitka, Alaska that was established in 1941.

John Cheever

The Wapshot Chronicle (1957) – debut novel. Follows the Wapshot family who live in a Massachusetts fishing village.

Falconer (1977) – tells the story of Ezekiel Farragut, who is serving time in Falconer State Prison for the murder of his brother.

Tracy Chevalier - Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999) was inspired by the painting of the same name by Johannes Vermeer. The girl is Griet, a maid in Vermeer’s household. Adapted into a 2003 film starring Scarlett Johansson.

Kate Chopin - The Awakening (1899) is set in New Orleans and seen as a landmark work of early feminism.

Tom Clancy is best known for spy novels featuring Jack Ryan and John Clark. More than 100 million copies of his books have been sold.

The Hunt for Red October (1990) – CIA analyst Jack Ryan assists in the defection of the captain of Red October, the Soviet Navy's most advanced ballistic missile submarine.

Patriot Games (1992) – Jack Ryan and his family become a target of the Ulster Liberation Army for foiling their attack on the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Clear and Present Danger (1994) – Ryan is appointed CIA Acting Deputy Director of Intelligence and discovers he is being kept in the dark by colleagues who are conducting a covert war against a drug cartel in Colombia.

The Sum of All Fears (2002) – terrorists attack the US with a nuclear weapon that had been lost by Israel, nearly triggering a war between the US and the Soviet Union.

Without Remorse (2021) – John Clark is introduced as former Navy SEAL John Kelly, and fights a one-man war against drug dealers in Baltimore.

Emma Cline - The Girls (2016) is a debut novel inspired by the murder of Sharon Tate.

Richard Condon - The Manchurian Candidate (1959) is a political thriller about Korean War veteran Raymond Shaw, the son of a prominent US political family, who is brainwashed into being an unwitting assassin for the Communist Party. Adapted into a film in 1962 starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Angela Lansbury.

Michael Crichton

The Andromeda Strain (1969) – follows a team of scientists, led by Jeremy Stone, who investigate a deadly organism of extraterrestrial origin.

Disclosure (1994) – concerns Tom Sanders and his struggle to prove that he was sexually harassed by his female employer at the fictional computer company DigiCom

For other works by this author see: Science Fiction and Fantasy

E(dward) E(stlin) Cummings - The Enormous Room (1922) is an autobiographical novel about his temporary imprisonment in France during World War I.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Michael Cunningham - The Hours concerns three generations of women affected by the Virginia Woolf novel Mrs. Dalloway. Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Adapted into a 2002 film.

Clive Cussler has written a series of adventure novels featuring Dirk Pitt, who served as a pilot in the Vietnam War and works for the fictional National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA). Cussler founded an actual private non-profit organisation named NUMA in 1979.

Don DeLillo

White Noise (1985) – follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who is very afraid of death.

Libra (1988) – describes the life of Lee Harvey Oswald and his participation in a fictional CIA conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy.

Mao II (1991) – tells the story of a novelist, Bill Gray, who is struggling to finish a novel. He travels to Lebanon to assist a writer being held hostage. The title is derived from a series of Andy Warhol silkscreen prints depicting Chairman Mao.

Underworld (1997) – tells the story of Nick Shay, who attempts to trace the history of the baseball struck in ‘The Shot Heard 'Round the World’ by Bobby Thomson in 1951.

James Dickey - Deliverance (1970) debut novel which was adapted into a 1972 film directed by John Boorman.

J(ames) P(atrick) Donleavy

The Ginger Man – is an account of the misadventures of the book's protagonist, Sebastian Dangerfield, a young American student of law at Trinity College, who is living in Dublin with his English wife. Published in 1955 and banned both in Ireland and USA for obscenity.

A Fairy Tale of New York (1973) – concerns Cornelius Christian, an American expatriate who arrives back in his native New York City after studying in Ireland.

John Dos Passos

Manhattan Transfer (1925) – focuses on four people living in Manhattan from the 1890s to the 1920s.

U.S.A. trilogy (1930-1936) – consists of the novels The 42nd Parallel, 1919 and The Big Money.

Theodore Dreiser was a novelist of the Naturalist school.

Sister Carrie (1900) – 18-year-old Caroline Meeber moves from Wisconsin to Chicago to live the ‘American Dream’.

The “Genius” (1915) – is semi-autobiographical. Eugene Witla, an artist, struggles to remain faithful to is wife.

An American Tragedy (1925) – is based on the murder of Grace Brown in 1906 and the trial of her lover, Chester Gillette.

Kim Edwards - The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (2005) tells the story of David Henry who gives away his new-born daughter Phoebe, who has Down’s syndrome, to one of the nurses.

Jennifer Egan - A Visit from the Goon Squad is a collection of linked stories which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Bret Easton Ellis (1991) - American Psycho is a psychological thriller. The story is told in the first person by Patrick Bateman, a serial killer and Manhattan businessman. Adapted into a 2000 film starring Christian Bale.

Ralph Waldo Ellison was named by his father after Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Invisible Man (1952) – addresses many of the issues facing African Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marxism, and the policies of Booker T. Washington.

Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides (1993) – concerns the five sisters on the Lisbon family, who are kept at home by their overprotective parents.

Middlesex (2002) – follows the story of Cal, an intersex man of Greek descent. Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Marriage Plot (2011) – follows a group of college friends from Brown University.

Janet Evanovich is the author of a series of novels featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. One for the Money (1994) is the first Stephanie Plum novel.

William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949. Some of his works are set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based on Lafayette County, Mississippi, where Faulkner spent most of his life. Faulkner also worked on the screenplays to the Howard Hawks directed films To Have and Have Not (1944) and The Big Sleep (1946) starring Humphrey Bogart.

The Sound and the Fury (1929) – is set in Jefferson, Mississippi. The novel centres on the Compson family that falls into financial ruin and loses its religious faith. Title taken from a soliloquy by Macbeth.

As I Lay Dying (1930) – tells the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family's quest to honour her wish to be buried in Jefferson. Title taken from Homer’s Odyssey.

Light in August (1932) – Lena Grove, a young pregnant woman from Alabama, is trying to find Lucas Burch, the father of her unborn child.

Absalom, Absalom! (1936) – is a tale of the American Civil War, focusing on the life of Thomas Sutpen. The title is an allusion to the Biblical story of King David and his son Absalom.

The Rievers – final novel. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1963.

Edna Ferber

So Big (1924) –follows the life of Selina Peake De Jong, who decides to be a school teacher in farming country.

Show Boat (1926) – follows the lives of the performers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River showboat. Adapted into a Broadway musical and a film.

Cimarron (1930) – is based on the Oklahoma Land Rushes of 1889 and 1893. Adapted into a 1931 film.

Joshua Ferris - Then we Came to the End (2007) debut novel, a satire of the American workplace.

F(rancis) Scott Fitzgerald is best known for his novels depicting the Jazz Age. Married Zelda Sayre after the publication of his first novel.

This Side of Paradise (1920) – debut novel. The protagonist, Amory Blaine, is based upon Fitzgerald. Title taken from a line of the Rupert Brooke poem Tiare Tahiti.

The Beautiful and Damned (1922) – tells the story of Anthony Patch, a New York socialite who is heir to his grandfather’s fortune.

The Great Gatsby (1925) – Jay Gatsby’s neighbour Nick Carraway helps him meet up with his former lover Daisy Buchanan, who is now married. Gatsby lives on an estate in the village of West Egg, on Long Island. Last line: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”.

Tender Is the Night (1934) – concerns the rise and fall of psychiatrist Dick Diver and his wife, Nicole, who is also one of his patients. The title is taken from the poem Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats.

The Last Tycoon (1941) – last novel. Published posthumously after being edited for publication by Edward Wilson. The story follows Monroe Stahr's rise to power in Hollywood, and his conflicts with Pat Brady, a character based on Louis B. Mayer.

Fannie Flagg - Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café (1987) was adapted into the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes.

Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2005) is a novel by about a boy who searches New York for information about a key that belonged to his father, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Jonathan Franzen

The Corrections (2001) – traces the lives of an elderly American couple and their three children.

Freedom (2010) – follows the lives of Patty and Walter Berglund and their family.

Marilyn French - The Women’s Room (1977) debut novel of radical feminist author which follows the story of Mira Ward, a conventional woman in a traditional marriage, and her gradual feminist awakening.

Paul Gallico

The Snow Goose (1941) – set at the time of the Dunkirk evacuation, the story follows the friendship between an artist and a girl who finds a wounded snow goose and nurses it back to flight.

The Poseidon Adventure (1969) – concerns the struggle for survival by passengers of the ocean liner S.S. Poseidon, that is overturned by a huge wave. Adapted into a 1972 film.

William Goldman - Marathon Man (1974) concerns a graduate student who becomes involved in a plot by Nazi war criminal Christian Szell to retrieve stolen diamonds from a safety deposit box in New York. Adapted into a 1976 film.

For other works by this author see: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Zane Grey - Riders of the Purple Sage is a 1912 novel that played a significant role in shaping the formula of the Western genre.

John Grisham is best known for his legal thrillers. Several of his novels are set in the fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi. His books have sold over 300 million copies.

A Time to Kill (1989) – debut novel. The story is based on the case of the rape of ten-year-old African-American girl Tonya Haile by two white supremacists.

The Firm (1991) – second novel and first bestseller. Mitch McDeere, a Harvard law graduate, joins a law firm involved in tax avoidance schemes. Adapted for the big screen in 1993 starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman.

The Pelican Brief (1992) – tells the story of Darby Shaw, a law student who uncovers a conspiracy. Filmed in 1993.

The Rainmaker (1995) – follows the life of law graduate Rudy Baylor who has no experience and tries to win a case against ruthless lawyers from a large corporation.

John Grogan - Marley and Me (2005) is an autobiographical novel. Marley is a yellow Labrador Retriever. Adapted into a 2008 film.

David Guterson - Snow Falling on Cedars (1994) is set on a fictional island north of Puget Sound in 1954. A Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with the murder of a local fisherman.

Chad Harbach - The Art of Fielding (2011) a novel about a college baseball player.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was an author of Dark romanticism. Much of his work centres on New England.

The Scarlet Letter – was published in 1850 and is set in Puritan Boston in the 17th century. It tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery. The Scarlet Letter ‘A’ represents the act of adultery that Hester has committed.

The House of the Seven Gables (1851) – revolves around the Pyncheon family and their ancestral home. The setting for the book was inspired by a colonial mansion in Salem.

The Blithedale Romance (1852) – tells the story of the Blithsdale farming commune. Narrated by Miles Coverdale.

The Marble Faun: Or, The Romance of Monte Beni (1860) – is a romance set in Italy. One of the characters resembles the marble Faun of Praxiteles.

Joseph Heller

Catch-22 (1961) – centres on a group of American fighter pilots in Italy during WWII, and their efforts to avoid flying suicidal missions. The novel follows John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most events occur while the Airmen of the fictional 256th squadron are based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea west of Italy. It was originally titled Catch-18, but Heller changed the name to avoid conflict with a Leon Uris novel entitled Mila 18. Based on the paradox – it was effectively impossible to be exempted from highly dangerous bombing missions on the grounds of insanity. Anyone who applied for exemption proved himself to be sane. Anyone who didn't apply must be crazy.

Closing Time (1994) – sequel to Catch-22. Set in New York in the 1990s.

Ernest Hemingway published seven novels. His experiences as an ambulance driver in World War I and as a reporter in the Spanish Civil War formed the basis for some of his works. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

The Sun Also Rises (aka Fiesta) – published in 1926, the story is based on expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls. Based on Hemingway's life in Paris and a trip to Spain in 1925 for the Pamplona festival.

A Farewell to Arms – is a semi-autobiographical novel written in 1929. The novel is told through the point of view of Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian army during World War I.

For Whom the Bell Tolls – was published in 1940. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains during the Spanish Civil War. As an expert in the use of explosives, he is given an assignment to blow up a bridge to accompany a simultaneous attack on the city of Segovia. The title is taken from a work by John Donne.

Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) – is set in Venice at the end of World War II. Focuses on Colonel Richard Cantwell’s romance with the 18-year-old Renata. The title is a reference to the last words of Confederate general Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees”.

The Old Man and the Sea – tells the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin off the coast of Cuba. Awarded the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Islands in the Stream – first novel to be published posthumously, in 1970.

The Garden of Eden – is the story of five months in the lives of David Bourne, an American writer, and his wife, Catherine.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro – is a short story.

For other works by this author see: Plays / Literature - Non-Fiction

O. Henry was the pen name of William Sydney Porter.

Cabbages and Kings (1904) – is a novel made up of interlinked short stories. Origin of the term ‘banana republic’. Title taken from the poem The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll.

The Gift of the Magi (1906) – is a Christmas short story about Della and Jim Young who are struggling financially but want to buy each other a Christmas present.

The Caballero's Way (1907) – is a short story, published in the collection Heart of the West. Introduced The Cisco Kid.

Patricia Highsmith was an American novelist who is known mainly for her psychological crime thrillers.

Strangers on a Train (1950) – debut novel in which two men who meet on a train and plan to ‘exchange murders’. Adapted to a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955) – Tom Ripley is a con artist career criminal who went on to feature in a series of novels known as The Ripliad: Ripley Under Ground (1970), Ripley's Game (1974), The Boy Who Followed Ripley (1980) and Ripley Under Water (1991).

Laura Z(ametkin) Hobson - Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) tells the story of a magazine writer who decides to research antisemitism by posing as a Jew. Filmed starring Gregory Peck.

Zora Neale Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) is a Harlem Renaissance novel. Janie Crawford is the main character in the novel, that displays how African American women are valued, or devalued, in their marital relationships.

John Irving

The World According to Garp (1978) – is the story of T.S. Garp, who is born out of wedlock to a feminist mother and grows up to become a writer.

The Cider House Rules (1985) – is a Bildungsroman that follows the story of Homer Wells, who grows up in an orphanage under the guidance of Dr. Wilbur Larch. Irving won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his script for the 1999 film adaptation.

A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989) – is narrated by John Wheelwright, who grows up in New Hampshire with his friend Owen Meany. The novel was influenced by The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass.

A Widow for One Year (1998) – follows the story of Ruth Cole, a novelist who witnesses a murder in Amsterdam.

Washington Irving

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819/1820) is a collection of 34 essays and short stories which includes two of Irving's best-known stories –

Rip Van Winkle – is set in the Catskill Mountains in New York. The title character is a Dutch-American villager who falls asleep for 20 years and misses the American Revolution.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – is set in a secluded glen known as Sleepy Hollow. The protagonist, Ichabod Crane is a superstitious schoolmaster. The Headless Horseman is a malevolent ghost in the Hollow and is said to be a decapitated Hessian soldier. Adapted into a 1999 Tim Burton film.

Henry James was born in New York and spent the last 40 years of his life in England, becoming a British subject in 1915.

The American (1877) – follows Christopher Newman, an American businessman who visits Europe on a Grand Tour.

The Europeans (1878) – describes the experiences of Eugenia and her brother Felix, who move from Europe to New England in the middle of the 19th century.

Daisy Miller (1879) – concerns the courtship of American couple Daisy Miller and Mr. Winterbourne. Set in Switzerland and Italy.

Washington Square (1880) – tells the story of Catherine Sloper and her romance with Morris Townsend. Adapted into the play The Heiress, which was itself then adapted into a 1949 film of the same name.

The Portrait of a Lady (1881) – tells the story of Isabel Archer from New York, who inherits a fortune and subsequently becomes the victim of scheming by two American expatriates.

The Bostonians (1886) – deals with feminism and the general role of women in society. Olive Chancellor and Basil Ranson compete for the affections of Verena Tarrant.

What Maisie Knew (1897) – is a Bildungsroman that follows the life of Maisie Farange, the daughter of divorced parents Beale and Ida.

The Wings of the Dove (1902) – tells the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress who is seriously ill, and a pair of lovers, Kate Croy and Merton Densher, who conspire to obtain her fortune.

The Ambassadors (1903) – follows the trip of American protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Paris to bring Chad, the son of his widowed fiancé Mrs. Newsome, back to the family business.

The Golden Bowl (1904) – is set in London and is a study of marriage and adultery.

For other works by this author see: Horror Fiction

Erica Jong - Fear of Flying (1973) is narrated by its protagonist, Isadora Wing, a poet. On a trip to Vienna with her second husband, Isadora decides to indulge her sexual fantasies with another man. Introduced the term ‘zipless fuck’, a sexual encounter for its own sake, without emotional involvement or commitment.

Jack Kerouac was a pioneer of the Beat Generation.

On the Road – is a roman a clef, published in 1957. The main characters are the narrator. Sal Paradise (the alter ego of Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (modelled on Neal Cassady) and the novel is based on their travels across the US.

Big Sur (1962) – covers the three trips of Jack Duluoz (the alter ego of Kerouac) to a cabin in Big Sur owned by Beat Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible (1998) – an American missionary family travel to the Belgian Congo.

The Lacuna tells the story of Harrison William Shepherd, who works for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Awarded the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Dean Koontz has published over 100 novels and has written novels under the pseudonyms Deanna Dwyer and KR Dwyer. His novels are billed as suspense thrillers, but frequently incorporate elements of horror, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and satire. Many of his novels are set in Orange County.

Star Quest – debut novel. Published in 1968.

Odd Thomas (2003) – is a mystery thriller that was followed by six sequels.

Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein (2004-2011) is a series of five novels Set in present-day New Orleans, the series follows the activities of Victor Frankenstein, now known as Victor Helios, as he continues to create new life forms for his own purposes. Opposed to his activities are a pair of homicide detectives and Frankenstein's original monster, now known as Deucalion.

Judith Krantz - Scruples (1978) debut novel. Describes the world of high fashion in Beverly Hills. One of the first ‘bonkbuster’ novels.

Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. Died in 2016.

To Kill a Mockingbird – is told from the point of view of Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch, the young daughter of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama, a fictional small town in the Deep South. She is accompanied by her brother Jem and their mutual friend Dill (based on Truman Capote). Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.

Go Set a Watchman – was published in 2015. Although publicized as a sequel, the novel is actually the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. The title comes from Isaiah 21:6: "For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth." It alludes to Jean Louise Finch's view of her father, Atticus Finch, as the moral compass ("watchman") of Maycomb, and has a theme of disillusionment, as she realizes the extent of the bigotry in her home community.

Dennis Lehane

Mystic River (2001) – follows the lives in three boys in Boston who witness a traumatic event. Twenty-five years later they are caught up in each other’s lives following a murder. Adapted into a 2003 Clint Eastwood film.

Shutter Island (2003) – US marshal Teddy Daniels investigates a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island after one of the patients goes missing. Adapted into a 2010 Martin Scorsese film.

Elmore Leonard

Get Shorty (1990) – follows Miami loan shark Chili Palmer who chases a client out to Hollywood, where Chili has an idea for a movie.

Rum Punch (1992) – follows Jackie Burke, an air stewardess who has been smuggling illegal cash into the US. Adapted into the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown.

Sinclair Lewis became the first writer from the US to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1930

Main Street (1920) – is set in the 1910s and follows the life of Carol Milford Kennicott as she comes into conflict with the small-town mentality of the residents of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota.

Babbitt (1922) – is a satirical novel that critiques the social pressure towards conformity in the middle classes.

Arrowsmith – follows idealistic medical student Martin Arrowsmith. The novel was awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction but Lewis declined the award.

Elmer Gantry (1927) – is the story of a man who becomes a Methodist minister despite his many indiscretions. The book caused a furore and was banned in some cities. Filmed in 1960 starring Burt Lancaster who won the Best Actor Academy Award.

It Can’t Happen Here (1935) – describes how US senator ‘Buzz’ Windrip gains power in the same manner as Adolf Hitler.

Jack London

Call of the Wild (1903) – is set in Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. The central character is a sled dog named Buck.

The Sea Wolf (1904) – Humphrey Van Weyden is a survivor of an ocean collision and comes under the dominance of Wolf Larsen, the sea captain who rescues him.

White Fang (1906) – is a companion novel to Call of the Wild. White Fang is a wild wolfdog.

John Barleycorn (1913) – is an autobiographical novel dealing with Jack London’s struggles with alcoholism.

Anita Loos was an actress, novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925) – is set in the Jazz Age and follows the adventures of a flapper named Lorelei. Subtitled The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady. Filmed in 1928 and again in 1953 in a musical version starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.

But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1927) – is the sequel to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Robert Ludlum

Bourne trilogy – three novels based on the spy Jason Bourne: The Bourne Identity (1980), The Bourne Supremacy (1986), and The Bourne Ultimatum (1990).

Eric van Lustbader has continued writing Jason Bourne novels following the death of Robert Ludlum in 2001. He has written 11 novels, starting with The Bourne Legacy (2004).

Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian (1985) – is a Western that tells the story of a runaway teenager known as ‘the kid’.

The Border Trilogy consists of the novels All the Pretty Horses (1992), The Crossing (1994) and Cities of the Plain (1998).

No Country for Old Men (2005) – is set in Texas in 1980 and concerns an illegal drug deal that has gone wrong. Title taken from the poem Sailing to Byzantium by W. B. Yeats. Adapted into a 2007 Coen Brothers film.

The Road (2006) – details the journey of a father son across a post-apocalyptic United States.

Carson McCullers wrote several novels set in the Deep South.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) – focus on the relationship between two close friends, John Singer and Spiros Antonapoulos, who are both deaf-mutes.

The Member of the Wedding (1946) – portrays a lonely adolescent whose attachment to her brother precipitates a crisis at his wedding.

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951) – comprises a novella of the same title along with six short stories. The novella concerns Miss Amelia Evans, who opens a café with a man claiming to be a relative.

Norman Mailer

The Naked and the Dead (1948) – debut novel. Partly based on Mailer’s experiences during the Philippines Campaign in World War II.

An American Dream (1965) – follows Stephen Rojack, a World War II hero, politician, academic, and public figure who is seen as the embodiment of the American Dream.

The Armies of the Night (1968) – is a nonfiction novel recounting the October 1967 March on the Pentagon

The Executioner's Song – is a nonfiction novel based on the life of murderer Gary Gilmore. Won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Castle in the Forest (2007) – last novel. Tells the story of the young life of Adolf Hitler.

For other works by this author see: Literature - Non-Fiction

Armistead Maupin - Tales of the City (1978-2014) is a series of novels based in San Francisco.

Herman Melville

Moby-Dick – was published in 1851. Based on The Essex, which was sunk by a sperm whale in 1820. Narrated by Ishmael. Ahab is the captain of the whaling ship Pequod, that sailed from Nantucket. Queequeg is the harpooner. The first mate is Starbuck.

Billy Budd, Sailor (1924) – is a novella, published posthumously. First edition was published as Billy Budd, Foretopman. Billy is a seaman press ganged into service by the Royal Navy in 1797. He kills the master-of-arms, John Claggart. Adapted into an opera by Benjamin Britten.

Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street – is an 1853 short story about a clerk who refuses to do any task, saying "I would prefer not to".

Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer – debut novel. Set in Paris, the novel centres on Miller's life as a struggling writer. First published in 1934 in France. Its publication in 1961 in the US led to obscenity trials.

Black Spring (1936) – is a book of ten short stories. Dedicated to Anais Nin.

Tropic of Capricorn (1939) – is a semi-autobiographical novel. Prequel to Tropic of Cancer.

The Rosy Crucifixion – is a trilogy consisting of Sexus (1949), Plexus (1953), and Nexus (1960). Documents Miller's life in Brooklyn as he struggles to become a writer, leading up to his departure for Paris in 1928.

Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Her novels address the consequences of racism in the US.

The Bluest Eye (1970) – debut novel. Set in Ohio in 1941, the novel tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an African American girl with an inferiority complex who desires blue eyes which she equates with ‘whiteness’.

Song of Solomon (1977) – tells the life story of Macon "Milkman" Dead III, an African American man living in Michigan.

Beloved – tells the story of a family of former slaves whose Cincinnati home is haunted by a malevolent spirit. The book's dedication reads "Sixty Million and more", referring to the Africans who died because of the slave trade. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988.

Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003) debut novel. Henry DeTamble has a genetic disorder which causes him to involuntarily travel through time. When his wife Clare meets Henry at the beginning of the novel, he has never seen her before, although she has known him most of her life.

For other works by this author see: Horror Fiction

Flannery O’Connor wrote in a Southern Gothic style.

Wise Blood (1952) – debut novel. Concerns a World War II veteran who forms an anti-religious ministry.

The Violent Bear It Away (1960) – tells the story of a boy who has been raised under the single-minded premise that his destiny is to become a prophet.

Mary O'Hara - My Friend Flicka (1941) - novel about Ken McLaughlin, the son of a Wyoming rancher, and his horse Flicka. Adapted into a 1943 film and a 1950s television series.

Joyce Carol Oates

The Wheel of Love and Other Stories (1970) – is a short story collection.

Black Water (1992) – is a roman à clef based on the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969.

We Were the Mulvaneys (1996) – follows a family living in a small town in upstate New York. Their life changes forever after Marianne Mulvaney is raped.

For other works by this author see: Historical Fiction

Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club (1996) - the unnamed narrator and Tyler Durden form an underground fighting club. The first rule of fight club is “You don’t talk about fight club”. Adapted into a David Fincher film.

James Patterson is an author and campaigner to make books and reading a national priority in the US. He was the first person to sell one million e-books. Many of his books are co-authored.

Private Series (2010-2018) – is a series of thriller novels. Private is a private investigation agency started by Jack Morgan's father and subsequently built into a worldwide enterprise by Jack Morgan.

I Funny (2012-2018) – is a comedy novel series by Patterson and Chris Grabenstein.

For other works by this author see: Crime Fiction / Literature - Childrens

Jodi Picoult is a writer of family sagas.

Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992) – debut novel. A woman leaves her husband and travels across America to live with her brother who works on an apple orchard.

House Rules (2010) – follows the struggle between a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome and his family.

Sylvia Plath - The Bell Jar is her only novel and was originally published in 1963 under the pen name Victoria Lucas. The protagonist is Esther Greenwood, who becomes mentally unstable during a summer internship at a magazine in New York. First line: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York”.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Edgar Allen Poe - The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) - is Poe’s only complete novel. Tells the story of Arthur Gordon Pym, who stows away aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus.

For other works by this author see: Horror Fiction / Crime Fiction / Poetry

Charles Portis

Norwood (1966) – debut novel. Follows Norwood Pratt on a road trip from his hometown in Texas, to New York City and back.

True Grit (1968) – was adapted into the 1969 Western film of the same name starring John Wayne.

E(dna) Annie Proulx

Postcards (1992) – debut novel. Concerns the life and travels of Loyal Blood across the American West.

The Shipping News – concerns Quoyle, a newspaper reporter from New York who returns to his ancestral home in Newfoundland. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1994.

Brokeback Mountain (1997) – a short story that was adapted into a film directed by Ang Lee in 2005.

Thomas Pynchon served for two years in the U.S. Navy. He is a reclusive author.

V. – debut novel, published in 1963. Alternates between episodes featuring discharged U.S. Navy sailor Benny, aging traveler Herbert Stencil and other members of the Whole Sick Crew.

The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) – follows the protagonist, Oedipa Maas, who embraces a conspiracy theory regarding a muted post horn symbol.

Gravity's Rainbow (1972) – is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centres on the deployment of V-2 rockets by Germany.

Vineland (1990) – describes the relationship between an FBI agent and a female radical filmmaker. Set in California in 1984.

Mason & Dixon (1997) – is a fictionalized account of the collaboration between Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon (of Mason-Dixon line fame).

Bleeding Edge (2013) – is a detective story, with its major themes being the 9/11 attacks in New York City and the transformation of the world by the Internet.

For other works by this author see: Historical Fiction / Crime Fiction

Julia Quinn is the pen name of Julie Pottinger.

Bridgerton – is a series of novels set against the backdrop of upper English society during the period of Regency England. Adapted into a 2020 Netflix series.

Ayn Rand is the pen name of Alice O’Connor. Born and educated in Russia. Developed a philosophical system known as Objectivism.

We the Living (1936) – debut novel. Semi-autobiographical novel set in post-revolutionary Russia.

The Fountainhead – was published in 1943. Howard Roark is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision.

Atlas Shrugged – was published in 1957. John Galt is a fictional character who describes Objectivism. Although he is absent from much of the text, he is the subject of the novel's often repeated question, “Who is John Galt?”, and the quest to discover the answer.

James Redfield - The Celestine Prophecy (1993) - a novel that discusses psychological and spiritual ideas rooted in multiple ancient Eastern traditions and New Age spirituality.

Harold Robbins has sold over 750 million books.

Never Love a Stranger (1948) – debut novel.

The Dream Merchants (1949) – is a novel about the American film industry, from its beginning to the sound era.

A Stone for Danny Fisher (1952) – was adapted into the movie King Creole starring Elvis Presley.

The Carpetbaggers (1961) – tells the story of Jonas Cord, a character based loosely on Howard Hughes.

Marilynne Robinson

Housekeeping (1980) – takes place in the Idaho town of Fingerbone and focuses on the Foster family, an extended family touched by tragedy.

Gilead – is written as a letter from dying Congregationalist minister John Ames to his young son. Gilead is a fictional town in Iowa. Awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Home – chronicles the life of the Boughton family, specifically the father, Reverend Robert Boughton, and two of his children who return home to Gilead. Awarded the 2009 Orange Prize.

Philip Roth was a novelist whose work was often set in his birthplace of Newark, New Jersey.

Nathan Zuckerman is a fictional character who is the protagonist and narrator in many of Roth’s novels.

Goodbye, Columbus (1959) – first book. Comprises the title novella and five short stories.

Portnoy’s Complaint (1969) – is a monologue by narrator Alexander Portnoy to his psychoanalyst. Caused a major controversy. The two aspects that evoked such outrage were its explicit and candid treatment of sexuality and obscenities, including detailed depictions of masturbation.

American Pastoral – focuses on the life of Newark star athlete Swede Levov, and the tragedy that befalls him when his teenage daughter becomes a terrorist. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1998.

The Human Stain (2000) – follows the story of the protagonist, Coleman Silk, a retired professor of classics. Narrated by Nathan Zuckerman.

The Plot Against America (2004) – imagines an alternative American history in which Charles Lindbergh is elected U.S. President in 1940 and the US negotiates an understanding with Nazi Germany.

Everyman (2006) – looks back on episodes from the life of an unnamed man (the everyman).

Nemesis (2010) – final novel. Tells of the effect of a 1944 polio epidemic on a Newark Jewish community.

For other works by this author see: Science Fiction and Fantasy

J(erome) D(avid) Salinger was drafted into the Army in World War II and was present at Utah Beach on D-Day. After the publication of The Catcher in the Rye he became reclusive.

The Catcher in the Rye – was published as a novel in 1951. Holden Caulfield, aged 16, runs away to New York. He has ideas of becoming a ‘catcher in the rye,’ a heroic figure who symbolically saves children from ‘falling off a crazy cliff’ and being exposed to the evils of adulthood. Title taken from a poem by Robert Burns. Total sales of the book exceed 65 million.

Franny and Zooey – comprises his short story Franny and novella Zooey. Franny and Zooey are sisters in the Glass family. who feature in a number of Salinger’s short stories.

Alice Sebold - The Lovely Bones (2002) - the plot follows a girl who is murdered and watches over her family from her personal Heaven. Adapted into a 2009 Peter Jackson film.

Erich Segal - Love Story (1970) - a novel that follows the relationship between Oliver Barrett IV and Jenny Cavilleri, Includes the catchphrase "Love means never having to say you're sorry...". Adapted into a 1970 film starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal.

Hubert Selby

Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964) – debut novel. Set in Brooklyn in the 1950s. Subject of an obscenity trial in the UK due to its portrayals of taboo subjects, such as drug use, street violence, gang rape, and homosexuality.

Requiem for a Dream (1978) – concerns four New York drug addicts whose lives spiral out of control. Adapted into a Darren Aronofsky film.

Irwin Shaw

The Young Lions (1948) – is a novel about the fate of three soldiers during World War II. Adapted into a 1958 film.

Rich Man Poor Man (1970) – concerns the fate of two brothers and a sister in the post-World War II decades.

Lionel Shriver is an author and journalist who lives in the UK.

We Need to Talk About Kevin – documents Eva Khatchadourian’s attempts to come to terms with her son Kevin, who has committed a school massacre. Awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2005.

So Much for That (2010) – is a critique of the American healthcare system.

Upton Sinclair wrote nearly 100 books. He was a socialist and the 1934 Democratic Party nominee for Governor of California.

The Jungle (1906) – exposes labour and sanitary conditions in the US meat packing industry.

Oil! (1927) – describes the working conditions in the oil industry. Inspiration for the 2007 film There Will be Blood.

The Flivver King (1937) – follows the growth of the Ford Motor Company.

Sinclair wrote a series of 11 novels about Lanny Budd, the son of an American arms manufacturer. World’s End (1940) is the first novel in the series.

Jane Smiley - A Thousand Acres - won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was adapted to a 1997 film of the same name. The novel is a contemporary deconstruction of Shakespeare's King Lear.

Danielle Steel was born Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel in New York City to a German father and a Portuguese mother. She has written over 140 novels, and is best known for romance novels

Going Home (1973) – debut novel.

Gertrude Stein moved to Paris in 1903. Her life partner was Alice B. Toklas.

Fernhurst (1904) – is an account of a scandalous three-person romantic affair.

Three Lives (1909) – contains three stories, The Good Anna, Melanctha and The Gentle Lena.

The Making of Americans (1925) – traces the history of members of the Hersland and Dehning families.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. Most of his works are set in central California.

The Red Pony (1933) – contains four stories about Jody Tiflin and his life on his father's California ranch.

Tortilla Flat (1935) – portrays the adventures of a group of young men in Monterey who enjoy life and drinking red wine.

Of Mice and Men (1937) – follows George Milton and Lennie Small, two migrant agricultural labourers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression. The title is taken from Robert Burns' poem To a Mouse.

The Grapes of Wrath – follows the Joad family who abandon the Oklahoma dustbowl and head for California. Title comes from Battle Hymn of the Republic. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1940. Adapted into a 1940 film directed by John Ford, starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad.

Cannery Row (1945) – revolves around a group of people during the Great Depression living on a street in Monterey lined with sardine canneries that is known as Cannery Row.

East of Eden (1952) – is set in the Salinas Valley. Follows two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, and their interwoven stories. Adapted for cinema in 1955 by director Elia Kazan and starring James Dean.

For other works by this author see: Historical Fiction / Literature - Non-Fiction

Kathryn Stockett - The Help (2009) - story about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. Adapted into a 2011 film.

Harriet Beecher Stowe - Uncle Tom’s Cabin - an anti-slavery novel published in 1852. Tom is sold to the evil Simon Legree after the death of Mr St Clare. Eliza is a slave and personal maid to Mrs. Shelby. Topsy is a slave girl. Subtitle – Life Among the Lowly. When Harriet met Abraham Lincoln in November 1862 her son reported that the President greeted her by saying "so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war".

Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge – consists of 13 short stories, based on several characters in Crosby, Maine. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009.

My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016) – concerns the relationship between Lucy Barton and her mother.

William Styron - Sophie’s Choice (1979) - a novel about a Polish immigrant with a dark secret from her past who shares a boarding house in Brooklyn with her tempestuous lover and a young writer. Adapted into a 1982 Alan J. Pakula film.

For other works by this author see: Historical Fiction

Jacqueline Susann - Valley of the Dolls (1966) - debut novel. It is a story about drug use and drama behind the scenes in show business. ‘Dolls’ is a slang term for the drugs known as downers.

Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club (1989) – debut novel. Set in San Francisco. Consists of sixteen interlocking stories about the lives of four Chinese immigrant mothers and their four American-born daughters. The Joy Luck Club is a mah-jong group.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2001) – deals with the relationship between Ruth, an American-born Chinese woman and Lu Ling, her immigrant mother.

Saving Fish from Drowning (2005) – concerns a group of American tourists who travel to China and Burma.

Booth Tarkington

The Magnificent Ambersons – contrasts the decline of the "old money" Amberson dynasty with the rise of "new money" industrial tycoons in the years between the American Civil War and World War I. Awarded the 1919 Pulitzer Prize. Adapted into a 1942 Orson Welles film.

Alice Adams – is the story of Alice, a young woman of lower social status who tries to win the affections of Arthur Russell, an upper-class man. Awarded the 1922 Pulitzer Prize.

Donna Tartt

The Secret History (1992) – debut novel. Narrated by Richard Papen, one of six classics students at Hampden College in Vermont. Concerns the murder of Edmund "Bunny" Corcoran.

The Little Friend (2002) – follows the anxiety of Harriet Dufresnes surrounding the unexplained death of her brother, Robin.

The Goldfinch – the story of Theo Decker, who takes a painting, The Goldfinch by Dutch Golden Age artist Carel Fabritius, as he escapes an art museum following a terrorist bombing. Awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Walter Tevis

The Hustler (1959) – tells the story of a young pool hustler, Edward "Fast Eddie" Felson, who challenges the legendary Minnesota Fats. Adapted into a 1961 film.

The Color of Money (1984) – is a sequel to The Hustler. Adapted into a 1996 film.

The Queen’s Gambit (1983) – explores the life of fictional female chess prodigy Beth Harmon. Adapted into a 2020 Netflix miniseries.

For other works by this author see: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Paul Theroux - The Mosquito Coast (1981) - is narrated by Charlie Fox, the son of an inventor who uproots his family to establish a self-sustaining settlement in the jungles of Honduras.

For other works by this author see: Literature - Non-Fiction

Hunter S(tockton) Thompson founded the gonzo journalism movement.

Hell’s Angels (1967) – is a nonfiction novel. Thompson spent a year with a Hells Angels motorcycle gang in California to prepare for the book.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971) – deals with the perceived failure of the 1960s counterculture movement. Journalist Raoul Duke, and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, arrive in Las Vegas to chase the American Dream through a drug-induced haze. First published in Rolling Stone.

For other works by this author see: Literature - Non-Fiction

James Thurber - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - the most famous of Thurber's short stories, it first appeared in The New Yorker in 1939. The protagonist spends his time in heroic daydreams. Adapted for the big screen twice – starring Danny Kaye in 1947 and Ben Stiller in 2013.

Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Twain may have been the first author to use a typewriter.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) – Tom, an orphan, is brought up by his Aunt Polly in St. Petersburg, Missouri. He is infatuated with Becky Thatcher. Huckleberry Finn is his friend. Injun Joe is the primary antagonist.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) – is the sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Huck is kidnapped by his father, fakes his own death, and runs away with a slave called Jim.

Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894) – follows Tom Driscoll who is white, and Chambers who is 1/32 black and was born into slavery. The boys are switched at infancy by Roxy, the mother of Chambers.

For other works by this author see: Science Fiction and Fantasy / Literature - Childrens / Literature - Non-Fiction

Anne Tyler

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982) – follows the lives of three siblings: Cody, Ezra, and Jenny, and explores their experiences and recollections of growing up with their mother, Pearl, after the family is deserted by their father, Beck.

The Accidental Tourist (1985) – revolves around Macon Leary, a middle-aged travel writer whose life and marriage have been shattered by the tragic death of his son.

Breathing Lessons – follows the middle-aged couple Maggie and Ira Moran as they travel to their childhood home to attend a friend’s funeral. Awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

John Updike is best known for the "Rabbit" series (the novels Rabbit, Run (1960); Rabbit Redux (1971); Rabbit Is Rich (1981); Rabbit at Rest (1990); and the novella Rabbit Remembered (2001)), which chronicles the life of the middle-class everyman Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom over the course of several decades. Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit at Rest were both awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

For other works by this author see: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Gore Vidal was a political commentator and essayist whose novels explored the nature of corruption in public and private life.

The City and the Pillar – was published in 1958. It created controversy as the first major American novel to feature unambiguous homosexuality.

Myra Breckinridge (1968) – is a satire of the American movie business, by way of a school of dramatic arts owned by a transsexual woman, the eponymous anti-heroine.

For other works by this author see: Historical Fiction

Alice Walker - The Color Purple - focuses on the life of African American women in the Southern United States in the 1930s. Main character and narrator is Celie. Awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Adapted into a 1985 Steven Spielberg film.

David Foster Wallace

The Broom of the System (1987) – debut novel

Infinite Jest (1996) – is a tragi-comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America, set in The Enfield Tennis Academy and Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House. Title taken from the gravedigger scene in Hamlet.

The Pale King (2011) – is an unfinished novel, published posthumously

Robert Penn Warren is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.

All the King’s Men – is set in the American South in the 1930s and tells the story of an idealistic politician, Willie Stark, whose lust for power corrupts him and those around him. Inspired the title of All the President’s Men. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

Charles Webb - The Graduate (1963) was adapted into a 1967 film of the same name.

Lauren Weisberger - The Devil Wears Prada (2003) - is based on Weisberger’s experience as an assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Adapted into a 2006 film.

Eudora Welty wrote about the American South. She was the first living author to have her works published by the Library of America.

Delta Wedding (1946) – focuses on the mundane and social life of the central South.

The Optimist’s Daughter (1972) – Laurel Hand, the main character, travels to New Orleans from her home in Chicago to assist her aging father. Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Nathanael West

Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) – is a novella set in New York during the Great Depression. Miss Lonelyhearts is a male newspaper columnist writing an advice column who becomes depressed as he had to read letters from desperate New Yorkers.

The Day of the Locust (1939) – is set in Hollywood during the Great Depression, that depicts the alienation and desperation of a disparate group of individuals whose dreams of success have effectively failed.

Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The House of Mirth (1905) – tells the story of Lily Bart, a woman belonging to New York City's high society.

Ethan Frome (1911) – is set in the fictional town of Starkfield. Ethan Frome becomes obsessed with the cousin of his hypochondriac wife, Zeena.

The Age of Innocence – is set in the 1870s, in "Gilded Age" New York City. Newland Archer prepares to marry May Welland, but when Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize.

Colson Whitehead

The Intuitionist (1999) – debut novel. The protagonist is Lila Mae Watson, an elevator inspector of the "Intuitionist" school, who ride in an elevator and intuit the state of the elevator and its related systems.

The Nickel Boys – is an exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.H

For other works by this author see: Historical Fiction

Thornton Wilder - The Bridge of San Luis Rey tells the story of several unrelated people who happen to be on an Incan rope bridge in Peru when it collapses, killing them. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1928.

For other works by this author see: Plays

John Edward Williams - Stoner (1965) - details the tragic life of William Stoner, an assistant professor of English at the University of Missouri.

Owen Wister - The Virginian - is a 1902 novel set in the Wild West. It describes the life of a cowboy on a cattle ranch in Wyoming and was one of the first true westerns ever written. Adapted into a television series starring James Drury.

Tom Wolfe adopted wearing a white suit as a trademark in 1962.

The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) – is set in New York in the 1980s. Sherman McCoy is a Wall Street bond trader and “Master of the Universe” who is conducting an affair with Maria Ruskin.

A Man in Full (1998) – is set primarily in Atlanta. The protagonist is Charles Croker.

For other works by this author see: Literature - Non-Fiction

Ernest Wright - Gadsby (1939) - is a novel which does not include any words that contain the letter ‘e’.

Richard Wright wrote about the plight of African Americans during the late 19th to mid-20th centuries suffering discrimination and violence. Moved to Paris in 1946.

Uncle Tom’s Children (1938) – is a collection of novellas and was Wright’s first book to be published. Title derived from Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Native Son (1940) – tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a black youth living in poverty in a poor area on Chicago's South Side in the 1930s.

The Outsider (1953) – follows Cross Damon, an intellectual African American, the product of a culture which rejects him.

Hanya Yanagihara - A Little Life (2015) is a novel concerning a New York lawyer named Jude, who has suffered sexual, physical, and psychological abuse.

Richard Yates - Revolutionary Road (1961) - debut novel. Set in 1955, the novel follows Frank and April Wheeler, a couple struggling to cope with their personal problems and ensuing breakdown in their marriage. Adapted into a 2008 Sam Mendes film.