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Published 4 years ago with 8 Comments
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  • cuttysark

    Added the full list :)

    As a non-American I'm surprised by the lack of Steinbeck. To me his novels are characterised by his stark interpretations of American ideologies.

    • BlueOracle

      Now that you mention it, it's very surprising that there is no Steinbeck. You can't get much more American than the Grapes of Wrath, or any Steinbeck, really. I could have done with fewer mentions of the Catcher in the Rye, but I understand why it's there. I was also glad to see P.K. Dick on the full list.

  • TheEnglishMajor

    As an American, when I hear "American literature," I immediately taste dust and alcohol.

    The subjects range from the Great Depression to the Vietnam war and the great American road trip, but the most popular decade is the 2000s.

    So, for whatever reason, the 2000s being the most-mentioned decade completely threw me, and that feeling bothers me. I shouldn't feel so surprised by the inclusion of recent literature under the label "American"!

    • cuttysark

      I agree. To my mind it springs the American Dream, with thoughts of the dusty west, and always racism interwoven with it all. But I wonder if this is due to the literature we are exposed to when we were given these sort of classifications. Certainly our school collections only offered The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye out of all the American novels.

  • ToixStory

    Eh, I agree with some of these, but not nearly all. Especially the Lolita one. That was...not what comes to mind when thinking about America. I was also saddened that, like always, the novels are pretty much ones we've all heard of before. I would at least have named something by Cormac McCarthy (particularly No Country For Old Men that, I think, is one of the best descriptions of the American mindset in the character of Llewelyn Moss), and perhaps either Neuromancer by William Gibson or Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson as great novels on American obsession with technology and how it affects our lives.

    • BlueOracle

      I thought Lolita was an odd choice as well. I can't argue with American Psycho though! :)

      I tried to read Snow Crash and I just could not get through it. I can see it being quintessentially American, I'll give you that.

    • Tadaima

      If you check the full list there are 2 Cormac McCarthy novels. But really this isn't a poll or anything with a scientific process, it's just various critics seemingly listing their 3 favorite American novels.

      • BlueOracle

        Hey, you could add the full list as a related link if you like. I probably should have done that myself. You're right that this list is not at all scientific, but I thought it might be a good conversation starter, and I liked the invitation for readers to share their choices in the comments. :)

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