The Few Americans Who Won a Nobel in Literature – Five Books I Recommend

Today the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature to an American.

Did you know that only about a dozen American writers have won the Nobel in Literature (and a few of those came to the U.S. as adults)? The New Yorker has an interesting piece about why the U.S. has been snubbed.

Some could see today’s award as yet another snub to American literature. Why? Because the prize went to Bob Dylan.

Yes, that Bob Dylan.

Instead of focusing on that, let’s look at some of the American authors who have received that coveted prize. There are some heavy hitters on the list – Hemingway. Steinbeck. Faulkner. Instead I’ll share five books I recommend from Americans who won a Nobel Prize in Literature.

1) Joseph Brodsky – Less Than One

This book is a collection of essays that delve into everything from traveling to poetry to Soviets. I blogged about a snippet from one of the essays here. As someone who finds reading poetry quite difficult, I appreciated the almost lecture-like dissections of poets and poetry in some of the essays.

2) Toni Morrison – Song of Solomon

Morrison is such a gem to American literature. Song of Solomon was the first book I read by her and I was wowed.

3) Czeslaw Milosz – Issa Valley

When I finished this book, I made a note that Milosz was a Polish Mark Twain. The book’s child protagonist lives an idyllic life in a village deep in the forests of Eastern Europe. It’s hard not to imagine Huck Finn.

4) Isaac Bashevis Singer – Meshugah

Meshugah means nuts in Yiddish, and, boy, can this book be nutty. The novel is about Holocaust survivors in New York City in the 50s and the narrator is a Yiddish columnist who gets entangled with a much younger married woman. There’s love. Sin. Entrapment.

5) Saul Bellow – Humboldt’s Gift

Humboldt’s Gift is a bit of a neurotic look at the life of writers (this is perhaps why I enjoyed it).

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About Stephanie Y.

I'm a professional news writer in Frederick, Maryland. I blog at S.Y. Ciphers.

2 responses to “The Few Americans Who Won a Nobel in Literature – Five Books I Recommend”

  1. Rachel says :

    I have only read one Toni Morrison book – Song of Solomon – but I really enjoyed it and hope to read more. I’m afraid I’m poorly read on the American Nobel Prize winners, it would appear. I HAVE read some Steinbeck. 🙂

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