Nowhere Novels: Or, Are Any Books Set in Indiana?

The second prose piece in the 2012 Pushcart anthology is “Mr. Lytle: An Essay,” by John Jeremiah Sullivan and originally published in The Paris Review.  In it, the narrator notes:

I was under the tragic spell of the South, which you’ve either felt or haven’t.  In my case it was acute because, having grown up in Indiana with a Yankee father, a child exile from Kentucky roots of which I was overly proud, I’d long been aware of a nowhereness to my life.  Others wouldn’t have sensed it, wouldn’t have minded.  I felt it as a physical ache.

My first thought: “Well, of course you did.  You were in Indiana.”  My second thought: “Are there any major novels set in Indiana?  Any at all?”

I can’t think of any off the top of my head or after perusing my own bookshelves, so I’ll leave them up to you, gentle readers.  Novels set in Indiana: go!

Or, if you can think of novels set in any of the other 49 states, I’ve started a list of states and novels set in them after the jump.

Novels, By the State They Are (Mainly) Set In

Alabama: To Kill a Mockingbird, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Alaska: Julie of the Wolves
Arizona: The Bean Trees (mostly), Brighty of the Grand Canyon
Arkansas: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Lonesome Dove
California: Of Mice and Men
Colorado: The Shining
Connecticut: um…The Babysitters Club series?
Georgia: Gone With the Wind, Cane, The Color Purple, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Hawaii: (Margaret of Molokai wasn’t a novel, was it?)
Illinois: The Jungle (also not a novel?), Across Five Aprils
Indiana: (Wikipedia says that A Girl of the Limberlost was set in Indiana. I do not remember that.)
Iowa: any of the Nancy Drew novels – River Heights was, supposedly in Iowa. (True Fact!) Also, The Bridges of Madison County
Kansas: Little House on the Prairie
Kentucky: Prodigal Summer
Maine: (insert Stephen King novel here)
Massachusetts: The Bell Jar, (insert Nathaniel Hawthorne novel here)
Michigan: Song of Solomon, The Time Traveler’s Wife (mostly)
Minnesota: On the Banks of Plum Creek, (insert Lake Wobegon books here)
Mississippi: The Help, (insert William Faulkner novel here)
Missouri: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Nebraska: (insert Willa Cather novel here)
New Hampshire:
New Jersey: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
New Mexico: The Milagro Beanfield War
New York: Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (?)
North Carolina: (insert Nicholas Sparks novel here)
North Dakota:
Ohio: Winesburg, Ohio, Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Sula, And Ladies of the Club
Oregon: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (insert Beverly Cleary’s works here)
Pennsylvania: The Catcher in the Rye
Rhode Island:
South Carolina: The Secret Life of Bees
South Dakota: By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years
Texas: (insert Cormac McCarthy novel here)
Vermont: Pollyanna
Virginia: Sapphira and the Slave Girl, Bridge to Terebithia, Misty of Chincoteague et al
Washington: (insert Sherman Alexie novel here)
West Virginia: Where the Red Fern Grows (?), Shiloh, Jacob Have I Loved
Wisconsin: Little House in the Big Woods


The District of Columbia:
Puerto Rico:
U.S. Virgin Islands:
American Samoa:
The Northern Mariana Islands:
The Federated States of Micronesia:



About Dani Alexis

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6 Responses to Nowhere Novels: Or, Are Any Books Set in Indiana?

  1. Meredith says:

    Florida: Swamplandia!; Their Eyes Were Watching God
    Montana: Jim Harrison’s The Farmer’s Daughter.
    Those are just a few off the top of my head 🙂

    I loved the Girl of the Limberlost, although I don’t remember it being set in Indiana, either.

  2. Applesauce Parker says:

    (Wikipedia says that A Girl of the Limberlost was set in Indiana. I do not remember that.)

    I don’t recall whether the book itself is explicit about the location, but I grew up and still live in East-Central Indiana, about 45 minutes away from Limberlost Swamp. So, in this at least, wikipedia doesn’t steer you wrong. (Actually, Gene Stratton-Porter built a house in the area and named it “Limberlost” as well. The state maintains it now as a museum/park/wildlife preserve. I haven’t been there for years, but it was very cool when I was a kid.) She also set Freckles in Indiana, IIRC.

    I’m pretty sure The Magnificent Ambersons is set in Indianapolis (also, the other Booth Tarkington novels no one’s read in 90 years).

    Apart from that, I suppose it depends on what counts as a “major novel”. I can think of a handful of mystery writers who set their stories in their own backyards or in historically interesting parts of the state (Madison, French Lick/West Baden, Crown Point). And there’s a sizable Amish community in the northern half of the state, so I’m certain there are writers in that oddish Plain-romance genre who light on Goshen or Geneva or Berne.

    Indiana really does have a substantial literary tradition, and as a reader and a Hoosier, I should have a whole list of these off the top of my head, but mostly I keep coming up with memoir/essayists – Haven Kimmel, Jean Sheppard – poets – Riley – and writers from Indiana whose novels are set elsewhere – Dreiser, Vonnegut (♥), Meg Cabot, we claim John Green though I’m not sure he claims us, etc..

    Other states: off the top of my head, Bradbury sets a number of his novels in Green Town, Illinois. Vonnegut favors Illium, NY in his novels. California has Chandler and Sue Grafton. Dana Stabenow’s series are both set in Alaska.

  3. Jeanne Heuer says:

    Driftless by David Rhodes, Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Wisconsin)
    And don’t forget Twilight is set in Washington.

  4. Stephanie Swaney says:

    Meg Cabot has a series of young adult novels (1-800-WHERE-R-U series) set in Indiana. Also, I started reading Fame by Karen Kingsbury. Part of it is set in Bloomington, Indiana.

  5. Gary says:

    As a Hoosier, I could give you dozens of books Ser in Indiana, but I’ll give you just two, Raintree County & Friendly Persuassion. As for your blanks, Delaware – Beloved, Florida – The Yearling, La – Confederacy of Dunces, Maryland – The Sot-Weed Factor, Montana – A River Runs Through It, Nevada – The Ox-Bow Incident, New Hampshire – A Separate Peace, North Dakota – Arrowsmith, Okla – True Grit, Rhode Island – The Witches of Eastwick, Tenn – A Death in the Family, Utah – The Great Brain, Wy – Shane, DC – Six Days of the Condor, Puerto Rico – The Rum Diary, & The Hurricane in Samoa. As for Idaho & the rest, I can not think of any…

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