Los Angeles novels
April 21, 2015 10:13 AM   Subscribe

What are the best novels about and/or set in Los Angeles -- with an emphasis on characters of color, particularly Hispanic?
posted by lewedswiver to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I like T.C. Boyle's Tortilla Curtain for this genre.

I haven't read it yet, but All Involved, by Ryan Gattis, ticks your boxes.

I feel like if I could look at my bookshelves while pondering this question I would come up with a ton more responses. I may be back with more. More likely, I'll read other people's responses and smack my forehead *do'h!*
posted by janey47 at 10:23 AM on April 21, 2015

The Tortilla Curtain comes to mind.

Very different but great and LA-based, any of James Ellroy's LA Quartet
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:23 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I know this is controversial but I thought Bright Shiny Morning was fantastic.
posted by something something at 10:33 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
Post Office, Charles Bukowski

Newish: The Weetzie Bat YA series is very good, and my recollection is that the cast is pretty diverse.
posted by veery at 10:46 AM on April 21, 2015

Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins books come to mind. Devil In A Blue Dress is the first one.
posted by asterix at 11:14 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

It's guaranteed to offend almost everyone, but I'm really enjoying Paul Beatty's new book The Sellout. A cutting, sui generis, laugh-out-loud LA novel.

If you haven't read Nathaniel West's The Day of the Locust, it's probably the saddest, most insightful novel ever written about the city, and about what LA and Hollywood would come, broadly and terribly, to represent for the rest of the US. The BBC recently ran a excellent, eerie documentary about its predictive power.

Bukowski's mentor John Fante, especially in his gut-wrenching Ask the Dust, arguably pioneered the modern LA novel. Written at a time when Italian-Americans had not yet fully "become white" (to steal Noel Ignatiev's phrase), it also speaks to the experience of ethnic minorities there. It gets cited in every list of great LA novels, but it deserves to be - like all of Fante's best work, it's vivid and moving.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:16 AM on April 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh, Kate Braverman's books Lithium for Medea and Palm Latitudes. I feel bad that I haven't remembered a Hispanic writer yet for this thread.
posted by janey47 at 11:16 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

If "novels" also includes graphic novels, check out the "Love and Rockets" series, particularly those stories penned by Jaime Hernandez.
posted by Leontine at 11:38 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

John Fante's Full of Life is a wonderful immigrant-parents story set in LA, in which a first-generation native-born American, a successful screenwriter, tries and fails to escape the orbit of his extremely old-world Italian parents.
posted by Polycarp at 11:54 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy this map of Los Angeles in fiction.

Nthing Day of the Locust, and throwing in Isherwood's A Single Man, If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes, and Ross MacDonald's various crime novels. I've not read it, but I remember The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar getting good reviews, and having Hispanic characters IIRC.

This is a cheat, as it's an anthology, but LA Noir has lots of great authors (several of who are POC).
posted by Gin and Broadband at 12:32 PM on April 21, 2015

The Barbarian Nurseries by H├ęctor Tobar from 2011.
posted by Rash at 2:32 PM on April 21, 2015

Does magical realism set in El Monte count? If yes, The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia.
posted by Scram at 10:08 PM on April 21, 2015

Gideon and Sirius novels, about LAPD Michael Gideon and his partner Sirius solving some odd crimes for LAPD.

There are two novels: Burning Man, and Guardians of the Night.
posted by kschang at 6:48 AM on April 22, 2015

I forgot to add Michael Nava's Henry Rios novels.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:46 PM on April 22, 2015

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