6 Authors Crafting Fiction About The American Experience

While there are plenty of tropes of American fiction like cowboys and private eyes, that's only a sliver of the true experience of many in the country. These authors examine different periods of history to find untold tales and represent the breadth of people that make up the United States. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 Authors Writing About America

Name Notable Works
Chris Cander The Weight of a Piano Whisper Hollow 11 Stories
Jack Woodville London French Letters Virginia's War French Letters Engaged in War French Letters: Children of a Good War
Alix Hawley All True Not a Lie in It My Name Is a Knife The Old Familiar
Letty Cottin Pogrebin Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who's Sick Stories for Free Children
James Ellroy The Black Dahlia L.A. Confidential Perfidia
Katherine Cobb Fifty, Four Ways The Self-Loathing Project Skyline Higher

Chris Cander Talks about Whisper Hollow

5 Organizations Continuing the Work of Great Americans

Name Headquarters Honoring Focus
Maria Mitchell Association Nantucket, MA Maria Mitchell Provides scientific resources and educational programs for the community of Nantucket, including an aquarium, observatory, science center, and the historic Mitchell House
Lantos Foundation Concord, NH Tom Lantos Works to preserve religious freedom, give voice to those living under brutal regimes, and hold corporations accountable for their impact on the global struggle for human rights
Jackie Robinson Foundation New York, NY Jackie Robinson Offers scholarships and provides extensive mentoring and support services for students, holds an annual leadership conference, and operates the Jackie Robinson Museum
Frances Perkins Center Damariscotta, ME Frances Perkins Features a free ongoing exhibit entitled "Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal," hosts tours of the ancestral homestead, and offers internships and learning opportunities for students
Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps Boston, MA Robert F. Kennedy Serves at-risk youth and families through residential treatment, community intervention, the Bright Futures Adoption Center, the Robert F. Kennedy Academy & Don Watson Academy, and other support services

James Ellroy at the 2019 National Book Festival

In Depth

Historical events, religious beliefs, and even geography all play a role in shaping the daily existence of every American. Novels can take these experiences and turn them into tales that sweep us away into worlds like our own, or shed light on the tragedies and triumphs of others. In no particular order, here are six authors penning novels that explore uniquely personal stories about America.

Entering the list at #1 is Chris Cander, author of Whisper Hollow, which follows the lives of three very different women from two generations of coal mining families living on the hillsides of Whisper Hollow in southern West Virginia. The novel was Longlisted for the Great Santini Fiction Prize by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and nominated for the Kirkus Prize in Fiction.

In addition to novels, Cander also writes children's books and screenplays. For seven years, she was a writer in residence for Writers in the Schools, which engages children in the power of reading and writing. In addition, she serves on the Inprint advisory board and stewards several Little Free Libraries in her community. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, PEN, and MENSA.

In addition to novels, Cander also writes children's books and screenplays.

Entering the list at #2 is writer and historian Jack Woodville London. His novels portray a twentieth century American family during the 1940s. Virginia's War focuses on a young woman who lives in small-town Texas in 1944, and the follow up book, Engaged in War, tells the story of her army doctor boyfriend.

Honored as Author of the Year by the Military Writers Society of America, and winner of an Indie Excellence Award, London's stories have garnered such acclaim as Finalist for the Williams Foundation's Willie Morris Best Novel of the South, and silver medal at the London Book Festival for General Fiction. His book on the craft of writing, A Novel Approach, won the eLit gold medal for nonfiction. Prior to his fiction writing career, he was a trial lawyer.

At #3 is Alix Hawley, author of the novel All True Not a Lie in It, which tells the story of American frontiersman Daniel Boone and his captivity by the Shawnee during the Revolutionary War after the kidnapping and rescue of one child and the murder of another. It has garnered numerous accolades, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist, Knopf Canada's New Face Of Fiction Pick, and Globe And Mail Best Books. Hawley's follow up, My Name is a Knife, continues Boone's tale.

Hawley's follow up, My Name is a Knife, continues Boone's tale.

Hawley studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Oxford University and the University of British Columbia. Her story collection, The Old Familiar, was longlisted for the ReLit award. Several of her pieces have received acclaim from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, including Witching, which won the Literary Awards Short Story Prize, as well as Tentcity and Jumbo, which were runners up.

In the #4 spot is Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms. magazine, writer, lecturer, social justice activist, and the author of both fiction and nonfiction works. Her novel, Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate, follows a man who makes a promise to his mother to marry a Jew and have Jewish children. However, when Zach falls for Cleo, an African American activist, he must reconcile obligation to his parents with love for the woman who may be the soulmate he seeks.

In addition to her longtime affiliation with Ms. magazine, Pogrebin has published articles in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Time. She served two terms as president of The Authors Guild and as chair of the Board of Americans for Peace Now, and won an Emmy Award for Free to Be You and Me. She is also an inductee into the Manhattan Jewish Hall of Fame.

She is also an inductee into the Manhattan Jewish Hall of Fame.

At #5 is James Ellroy, author of the novel, Perfidia, which investigates the murder of a Japanese family in Southern California on the eve of World War II. Its follow up, This Storm, is a fictionalized account of the Japanese internment in Los Angeles following the events of Pearl Harbor. Booklist hails it as relentlessly compelling, while Kirkus calls it a gritty, absorbing novel.

Ellroy's L.A. Quartet books, which include The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz, have won numerous awards and are international bestsellers, while American Tabloid, part of the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy, a pop history of the 1960s, was Time magazine's Novel of the Year. The trio of novels, which also include The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's A Rover, cover such events as the Bay of Pigs, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy.

Wrapping up the list at #6 is Katherine Cobb, author of Fifty, Four Ways, a contemporary women's fiction story that follows four middle aged baseball moms with kids on the same team who are all reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Inspired by true events, and told from each woman's perspective, readers will experience what the characters do firsthand, including a peek behind closed doors.

Inspired by true events, and told from each woman's perspective, readers will experience what the characters do firsthand, including a peek behind closed doors.

Cobb has written for numerous publications and her award winning editorial column, It Is What It Is, won first place for Best Lifestyle Columnist by the West Virginia Press Association. She also contributed to the Amazon bestseller, A Gift of Gratitude: A Community Book Project. Her nonfiction works include The Self-Loathing Project and Panhandle Portraits, Volumes One and Two.