Greatest American Novels of the 20th Century

Novels from the American century of great literary and some historical significance.
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103 books · 69 voters · list created August 19th, 2012 by Paul (votes) .
13 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Paul 656 books
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Not to nitpick . . . as I nitpick . . . but George Orwell was British. Brilliant, but still British.


message 2: by Karen (last edited Aug 26, 2012 04:27PM) (new)

Karen And who is Michael Perry? I'm not saying he's not a great writer, but I've never even heard of him. His books look more like memoirs than novels, actually.


message 3: by Sean (new)

Sean 1984 was written by an Englishman. I always thought American literature was excellent, but if you have to drag a classic from British literature that's not exactly complimenting Hemingway, Chandler and the boys now is it.


message 4: by Glen (new)

Glen Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martian Chronicles...just to point out a few. Oh, and " The Call of the Wild is NOT a novel. Peace out


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Umm, I didn't know we had extended the 20th century all the way back to 1850, when "The Scarlet Letter" was first published, let alone 1884 ("Huckleberry Finn") and 1895 ("The Red Badge of Courage").


message 6: by Glen (new)

Glen Forgot that it was the 20th century LOL


message 7: by Adamolekun (new)

Adamolekun Oladayo Where are 'Herzog' by Saul Bellow on this list and 'Beloved by Toni Morrison? Where also is Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath'?
These are rude and unpardonable omissions.


message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul Feel free to add them, unless you'd rather just complain.


message 9: by Steve (new)

Steve Norquist Harper Lee's classic is great, but it does not belong at the top; In Cold Blood is great, but it's not a novel. Song of Solomon, The Moviegoer, Being There, Lolita, On The Road and who knows how many others are missing from the top 100 as well as Grapes of Wrath. This list should be entitled "100 top-voted books in our Internet survey." That way we could leave the "top 100 American novels of the 20th century" judging to the experts.


message 10: by Steve (new)

Steve Norquist Glen wrote: "Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martian Chronicles...just to poin..." Umm. Hard to believe you read all those if you think that Martian Chronicles is a novel, that Call of the Wild is not a novel, or that Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, Red Badge of Courage and Huckleberry Finn were written in the 20th-century.


message 11: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Orchard A friend is reading "It Can't Happen Here" by Upton Sinclair. I remembered a book I really enjoyed which I thought he also wrote but didn't see in his bibliography. Reading your list I came across Updike's "Rabbit" and "click" "Babbitt". Also belongs on the list. Did I see "Catch 22"?


message 12: by Paul (new)

Paul Jonathan wrote: "A friend is reading "It Can't Happen Here" by Upton Sinclair. I remembered a book I really enjoyed which I thought he also wrote but didn't see in his bibliography. Reading your list I came across ..."

Jonathan wrote: "A friend is reading "It Can't Happen Here" by Upton Sinclair. I remembered a book I really enjoyed which I thought he also wrote but didn't see in his bibliography. Reading your list I came across ..."

If you didn't see it, you can vote it onto the list.


message 13: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Orchard Paul wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "A friend is reading "It Can't Happen Here" by Upton Sinclair. I remembered a book I really enjoyed which I thought he also wrote but didn't see in his bibliography. Reading your li..."

Paul wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "A friend is reading "It Can't Happen Here" by Upton Sinclair. I remembered a book I really enjoyed which I thought he also wrote but didn't see in his bibliography. Reading your li..."

Steve wrote: "Harper Lee's classic is great, but it does not belong at the top; In Cold Blood is great, but it's not a novel. Song of Solomon, The Moviegoer, Being There, Lolita, On The Road and who knows how ma..."
Nabakov was Russian but a great American Novel


message 14: by Jonathan (last edited May 06, 2016 10:35PM) (new)

Jonathan Orchard Steve wrote: "Glen wrote: "Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martian Chronicles....."

Steve wrote: "Glen wrote: "Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martian Chronicles....."

Steve wrote: "Glen wrote: "Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martian Chronicles....."

Steve wrote: "Glen wrote: "Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martian Chronicles....."

Steve wrote: "Glen wrote: "Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martian Chronicles....."

Paul wrote: "Feel free to add them, unless you'd rather just complain."

Karen wrote: "And who is Michael Perry? I'm not saying he's not a great writer, but I've never even heard of him. His books look more like memoirs than novels, actually."
There's lots to quibble about here. Is "The Jungle" a novel. Many think "The Great Gatsby" is highly overrated. And, though it's understood, "American" should also include GG Marquez's "100 Years of Solitude" (which has been called the 2nd most important work of fiction since the Old Testament), but that's splitting hairs. Some people think Harper Lee worked more on "In Cold Blood" than Capote, and it isn't a novel. Maybe what is needed is a "Great Books You Must Read" like "Gilgamesh" (the original dynamic duo), "The Odyssey", "Don Quixote" ...."Candide", "The Death of Ivan Ilyich"..."The Magic Mountain"..."Perfume"...to now. American novels pre-20th century. Reading "The Scarlet Letter" when I didn't have to I thought, "why didn't teachers tell us what it is really about: sex and hypocrisy." And where is John Barth in the 20th century? It isn't an exact science but, like music reviewers, you find one you trust and go with it.



message 15: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Orchard Jonathan wrote: "Steve wrote: "Glen wrote: "Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martia..."

Jonathan wrote: "Steve wrote: "Glen wrote: "Umm, Where is " The Scarlet Letter", "Moby Dick", " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", " The Grapes of Wrath ", The Red Badge of Courage ", " The Octopus", " The Martia..."


message 16: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Orchard There's lots to quibble about here. Is "The Jungle" a novel. Many think "The Great Gatsby" is highly overrated. And, though it's understood, "American" should also include GG Marquez's "100 Years of Solitude" (which has been called the 2nd most important work of fiction since the Old Testament), but that's splitting hairs. Some people think Harper Lee worked more on "In Cold Blood" than Capote, and it isn't a novel. Maybe what is needed is a "Great Books You Must Read" like "Gilgamesh" (the original dynamic duo), "The Odyssey", "Don Quixote" ...."Candide", "The Death of Ivan Ilyich"..."The Magic Mountain"..."Perfume"...to now. American novels pre-20th century. Reading "The Scarlet Letter" when I didn't have to I thought, "why didn't teachers tell us what it is really about: sex and hypocrisy." And where is John Barth in the 20th century? It isn't an exact science but, like music reviewers, you find one you trust and go with it.


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