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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Fiction of Place – The Midwest

These past few weeks, I’ve toured the country looking at regional fiction. Fiction from the middle of the country is perhaps a bit harder to characterize than novels from more unique regions. I had an opportunity to live in a Midwestern state for a decade and as an East Coast transplant, I did meet a different breed. The Midwest was settled by immigrants and there is a no-nonsense openness to their descendents that sneaks into the region’s fiction.

It is no accident that some of the best of early-20th-century realism, such as Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie or Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street came out of the Midwest. But there is also a softer side, a quiet dignity to the characters that populate much of Midwest fiction.

If you would like to sample some lesser-known works set in the Midwest, try these:

Grand Avenue by Joy Fielding

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Staggerford by Jon Hassler

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg

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