Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.
- Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser. Class inequality, lost love, and personal sacrifice collide in this early-20th-century tale of a young lady’s struggle to make — and remake — her life in the face of tragedy.
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. The famed poet’s first memoir is as much an account of her own fraught childhood as it is a story of the country’s ongoing problems with racism and casual bigotry.
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The glitzy excess of Jazz Age New York forms a lavish backdrop for a brash millionaire’s pursuit of both the woman he desires and the (often elusive) American dream.