The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century
A Composite List and Ranking
by Brian Kunde


<- Cather, Willa, 1873-1947.
         American author and teacher born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and raised there and in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Winner of the 1923 Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours (1922). Noted for her depictions of life on the prairie, and how its inhabitants both alter and are altered by the land.
  • <- Death Comes for the Archbishop. 1927.
             Historical novel dealing with the efforts of French churchmen Bishop Latour and Father Joseph Vallient to secure the Catholic Church in 19th century New Mexico. Based on the real-life careers of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy and Father Joseph Machebeuf. While generally not as highly regarded as Cather's Nebraska novels, I myself found this one engrossing.
  • <- My Antonia. 1918.
             Relates the stories of a number of immigrant families starting new lives in Nebraska, particularly the Shimerdas, from Bohemia. The focus is on Antonia (accent on the first syllable), the eldest Shimerda daughter, and her life as seen through the eyes of her admirer, narrator Jim Burden. Presented in five "volumes," most of which coincide with stages in Antonia's life, and incorporates previously written short stories of Nebraska life. Considered Cather's best novel. Third book in her "prairie trilogy," preceded by O Pioneers! (1913) and The Song of the Lark (1915). Adapted to television in 1995.
  • <- O Pioneers! 1913.
             The story of Alexandra Bergson, who arrives in Hanover, Nebraska as a girl and matures amid loss and tragedy to create a successful farm there. An expansion of the earlier short stories "Alexandra" and "The White Mulberry Tree." Cather's first great novel, and the first book in her "prairie trilogy," followed by The Song of the Lark (1915) and My Antonia (1918). Adapted to television in both 1991 and 1992.

Posted Jul. 25, 2005, and last updated May 14, 2013.
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Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2013 by Brian Kunde.