Which authors are known for their places?
February 22, 2011 10:23 AM   Subscribe

What authors write about particular places?

I'm looking for examples of authors who have an affinity for particular places in their books - especially authors who keep coming back to a city or region in several of their works.


* Armistead Maupin and San Francisco
* Jennifer Crusie and various places in Ohio
* Mark Twain and the Mississippi River

I'm sure there are zillions of these.

* all genres welcome
* all places welcome - I've read more about US locations, so non-US locations are especially great
* looking for both fiction and non-fiction, but fiction preferred
* comments very welcome - if you think an author captures a place especially well, or especially badly, or whatever, I'd love to hear it

posted by kristi to Media & Arts (64 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Garrison Keillor and Lake Wobegon, MN (which stands in for just about every small town in that part of the country)
posted by jquinby at 10:26 AM on February 22, 2011

Elmore Leonard - Detroit
posted by travis08 at 10:32 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stephen King and Maine (mostly)
Robert B. Parker and Boston
Robert Crais and Los Angeles
Martha Grimes and creaky pubs all over England
Dennis Lehane and Boston

(ok, i read a lot of series!)
posted by clone boulevard at 10:33 AM on February 22, 2011

Sharyn McCrumb- Northeast Tennessee
Adriana Trigiani- Southwest Virginia
posted by kimdog at 10:33 AM on February 22, 2011

Stieg Larsson - Sweden/Stockholm?
posted by Grither at 10:35 AM on February 22, 2011

About half of Robert McCloskey's children's books are set in the small towns in mid-coastal Maine around the top of Penobscot Bay. They're beautifully illustrated and written, and capture the feeling of the place (at least for summer people) very well.

(Fun fact: Robert Lowell's Skunk Hour is about the same area - as are others of his poems, though less recognizably. There were a lot of literary types around those parts in the 1950s-'60s).
posted by bubukaba at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2011

Saul Bellow - Chicago
Umberto Eco - Italy
Tom Clancy - Washington DC
Anne Rice - New Orleans
posted by The World Famous at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2011

Cormac McCarthy - United States/Mexico borderlands
posted by travis08 at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2011

Michael Connelly - Los Angeles
posted by something something at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2011

Paul Auster - New York
Jeffrey Eugenides - Detroit
Mordecai Richler - Montreal
posted by barney_sap at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2011

Louise Dickinson Rich - Maine
posted by Melismata at 10:37 AM on February 22, 2011

James Lee Burke - Southern Louisiana
posted by brundlefly at 10:37 AM on February 22, 2011

H.P. Lovecraft - New England
posted by brundlefly at 10:39 AM on February 22, 2011

Daphne DuMaurier - Cornwall
posted by methroach at 10:40 AM on February 22, 2011

I think Wendell Berry's writing is, although not exclusively, deeply rooted in his connection to place, to Kentucky.
posted by simulacra at 10:41 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stephen King--Maine
posted by ejazen at 10:42 AM on February 22, 2011

James Joyce - Dublin

"I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book."
- Joyce in a letter to Frank Budgen
posted by kasparhauser at 10:43 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

John Irving and New Hampshire
Anne Tyler and Baltimore
posted by TrarNoir at 10:44 AM on February 22, 2011

Douglas Coupland - the Pacific Northwest
posted by statolith at 10:45 AM on February 22, 2011

Martin Cruz Smith - Moscow
Raymond Chandler- Los Angeles
Dashiell Hammet- San Francisco
Janet Evanovich- Trenton,New Jersey
John Patrick Burdett- Bangkok
posted by small_ruminant at 10:47 AM on February 22, 2011

Jacques Poulin and Quebec city.
posted by ddaavviidd at 10:48 AM on February 22, 2011

Jim Harrison - northern Michigan
posted by timsteil at 10:52 AM on February 22, 2011

Carl Hiaasen - Florida
posted by mhum at 10:55 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another one I just remembered: Michel Tremblay and the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood (Montreal)
posted by ddaavviidd at 11:00 AM on February 22, 2011

If you'll allow the figleaf of a fictional setting strongly based on the real: Charles de Lint - Ottawa
posted by bonehead at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2011

Willa Cather - O Pioneers! and My √Āntonia (Great Plains / Nebraska), Death Comes for the Archbishop (New Mexico), Shadows on the Rock (Quebec). I'm reading Five Stories now and it also seems to have a strong sense of place.

Jonathan Lethem - Brooklyn/NYC

Edwidge Danticat - Haiti and New York (especially strong sense of place, I think, in Krik? Krak!)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Nsukka and other parts of Nigeria (and some US)

Anne Lamott - Marin County, CA

Barbara Kingsolver - US Southwest, Appalachia

In poetry, Mary Oliver comes to mind (primarily New England) - I think she has essays, too.

(sorry if some of these are too broad!)
posted by milkweed at 11:03 AM on February 22, 2011

Alice Munro, in my opinion one of the best writers of our day, writes about Canada, often the area around Southern Ontario where she grew up.
posted by bookgirl18 at 11:05 AM on February 22, 2011

- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlngs (North Central FL)
- Zora Neale Hurston (Ditto)
- Janisse Ray (also southern Georgia, she focuses on scrub and longleaf pine ecosystems)
- Lee Gramling (cracker westerns)
- Harry Crews (also southern Florida)

West Virginia
- Breece D.J. Pancake
- Denise Giardinia (also Kentucky, Appalachian area)
- Louise McNeill (poetry, but she's awesome)
posted by ajarbaday at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2011

Harlan Coben - North East New Jersey (Bergen County and NYC a bit)
posted by raccoon409 at 11:10 AM on February 22, 2011

Peter Ackroyd -- London
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:11 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

If this counts, Faulkner's fictional Yoknanapatawpha County is a whole world of its own that is kind of a stand-in for much of Mississippi. His writing, whatever you may think of it, definitely touches on something essential about the entire South.
posted by bookgirl18 at 11:13 AM on February 22, 2011

Naguib Mahfouz - Cairo
posted by Lorin at 11:14 AM on February 22, 2011

Also, John D. McDonald and Fort Lauderdale, FL.
posted by jquinby at 11:23 AM on February 22, 2011

William Kennedy - Albany
posted by Morrigan at 11:25 AM on February 22, 2011

Nevada Barr - American national parks

Kathy Reichs - Montreal
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:29 AM on February 22, 2011

Sherman Alexie - Washington State (Seattle, Spokane areas)
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:35 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Donna Leon, Venice
James Lee Burke, New Orleans and Montana
Tom McGuane, Montana
James Hall, Florida Keys
Michael Connelly, LA
Daniel Woodrell, the Ozarks
Tony Hillerman, Navajo country
Ian Rankin, Edinbrough
Jonathan Kellerman, LA
Richard Russo, upstate NY
Greg Iles, Natchez
posted by fivesavagepalms at 11:38 AM on February 22, 2011

Murakami and Tokyo.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:38 AM on February 22, 2011

Charles Dickens - London
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:40 AM on February 22, 2011

Dana Stabenow - Alaska
Tony Hillerman - Navajo reservation
Louise Penny - Quebec
Colin Dexter - Oxford
Peter Mayle - Provence
posted by Daily Alice at 11:52 AM on February 22, 2011

Jim Butcher -- Chicago
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:11 PM on February 22, 2011

American South: Eudora Welty and -- in a very different way -- Flannery O'Connor.
posted by trip and a half at 12:11 PM on February 22, 2011

Judy Blume and Central New Jersey (Somerset and Watchung Co., mostly).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:15 PM on February 22, 2011

Some random UK ones

DH Lawrence - Nottinghamshire
Thomas Hardy (a largely fictional) Wessex
Ian Rankin - Edinburgh (Inspector Rebus crime novels)
James Heriot - vet stories set in the Yorkshire Dales/North Yorks Moors
Catherine Cookson - a billion historical novels set in & around Co Durham
posted by ComfySofa at 12:58 PM on February 22, 2011

J. A. Jance: Bisbee Arizona
posted by SLC Mom at 1:37 PM on February 22, 2011

David Lindsey - Houston
John Barth - Maryland, particularly the Eastern Shore of Chespeake Bay
posted by yclipse at 1:44 PM on February 22, 2011

Poppy Z. Brite - New Orleans
posted by brundlefly at 2:45 PM on February 22, 2011

Louise Erdrich - North Dakota
Robertson Davies - Ontario towns
Sinclair Ross - Canadian prairies
Thomas King - Canadian prairies
Margaret Laurence - Manitoba
George Elliot Clarke - Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

I could go on and on at this... a lot of Canadian writers tend to focus on a particular region.
posted by equivocator at 3:39 PM on February 22, 2011

Isak Dinesen (i.e. Karen Blixen) for both Kenya (Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass) and Denmark (most of her fiction; I've read Winter's Tales). She's an amazing writer.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:11 PM on February 22, 2011

Michael Chabon - Pittsburgh
posted by jabes at 6:20 PM on February 22, 2011

Tim Winton - Perth and surrounds, Australia
posted by kjs4 at 7:18 PM on February 22, 2011

Try that again:

Tim Winton - Coastal south west Western Australia.
posted by kjs4 at 7:20 PM on February 22, 2011

Margaret Truman - Washington DC
posted by SisterHavana at 8:26 PM on February 22, 2011

L.M. Montgomery -- Prince Edward Island, Canada. Not just her Anne of Green Gables series, either, Emily of New Moon series, The Blue Castle, and nearly everything else she wrote as well.
Jean Thesman and Lensey Namioka - Seattle. Laurence Yep - San Francisco. Debi Gliori - Scotland (fantasy). Madeleine L'Engle - New England. Sydney Taylor - New York City. These are all children's novel writers.

Dorothy Sayers -- mainly London, but a bit around the rest of the U.K. as well. Raymond Chandler - California. Eva Ibbotson - Austria & England (she's lived in both places and many books go from one to the other). Jaclyn Moriarty - Melborne, Australia.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:12 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow, wow, wow.

Every single one of these should get Best Answer - I just marked a few that especially leapt out at me (authors I love and hadn't thought of, authors I've been meaning to read, Africa and Asia).

If anyone has any other ideas, please chime in! Asia, Africa, and South America especially welcome.

This is so wonderful. Thank you!
posted by kristi at 10:44 PM on February 22, 2011

Roddy Doyle's books are basically everything I know about Ireland.
posted by jessicapierce at 11:08 PM on February 22, 2011

Orhan Pamuk and Turkey, especially Istanbul.
posted by mdonley at 11:25 PM on February 22, 2011

Actually, The Blue Castle is the only LM Montgomery novel set entirely outside PEI, in Ontario
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:33 AM on February 23, 2011

Mr. McGee -- yes, that was nagging at me. And then I forgot. Thanks for figuring out where Muskoka is.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:36 AM on February 23, 2011

Iain Sinclair - London.
Wikipedia. Official Unofficial Website.
posted by paduasoy at 3:37 PM on February 23, 2011

Raymond Carver -- the Pacific Northwest
T.C. Boyle -- Alaska
Jhumpa Lahiri -- Boston/Cambridge, MA
posted by spinto at 10:59 AM on March 7, 2011

Kate DiCamillo - Florida, cracker-style (Northern and Panhandle mostly - the "southern" regions of Florida have become kind of blotched over the state between Northern immigration areas): The Tiger Rising and Because of Winn-Dixie (both childrens books, but TTR is especially excellent).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Macondo, Columbia

John Steinbeck - Northern California

And someone else already wrote Breece D'J Pancake, but he was who I came here to write, so I'll add on his very eloquent/homesick statement about West Virginia: "I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave."

Personally, I'm always trying to find stories rooted in a particular place and examining the place as a sort of character, so I'm glad for this entry.
posted by cheshirecat718 at 3:53 PM on March 28, 2011

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