Grateful American® Foundation

The Best of America’s
20th Century Authors

1. J. D. Salinger
Since its 1951 debut, The Catcher in the Rye has sold more than 60,000,000 copies; seventy years later, Holden Caulfield is still discovered by thousands of adolescents.
2. Harper Lee
Her only book was the Pulitizer-prize-winning To Kill A Mockingbird; sixty-one years later, it is still read and revered from Africa to America. The work helped dislodge some of America’s stubbornly embedded ideas about race.
3. Tennessee Williams
America’s Shakespeare wrote poetically–and prolifically about love, hate, and envy in a myriad of masterpieces:
A Streetcar Named Desire; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The Glass Menagerie.
4. Maya Angelou
Poet; Performer; Playwright; Author of cookbooks;
Seven memoirs, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
5. Joan Didion
(b. 1934)
Essayist. Hollywood Script Writer. Novelist. Known for the acerbic
The White Album; Play It as It Lays; The Year of Magical Thinking.
6. Willa Cather
Known for her life-on-the-plains novels:
My Antonia; O Pioneers! Lucy Gayheart,
and the Pulitzer prize winning, One of Ours.
7. Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye; Sula; Tar Baby, and Beloved.
First African American Woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (1993).
8. Truman Capote
His childhood friend and neighbor, Harper Lee, assisted with the In Cold Blood research; he wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms; The Grass Harp; and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
9. Anne Tyler
(b. 1941)
Baltimore; Quirky families. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant;
The Accidental Tourist; Noah’s Compass; Clock Dance.
Deserves the Nobel.
10. John Steinbeck
An oeuvre about conflict; The Grapes of Wrath; The Pearl; Of Mice and Men.
1962 Nobel Prize Recipient.

Sources: The Grateful American Foundation
Ranking the 10 Best American Authors from the 20th Century–Ed A. Murray

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