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A Southern List:
125 Great Southern Books

While creating the award-winning documentary series, TELL ABOUT THE SOUTH: Voices in Black and White, the James Agee Film Project conducted a poll of book editors, publishers, scholars and reviewers, asking which of the thousands of Southern prose works published during the past century should be considered "the most remarkable works of modern Southern Literature."

The following list testifies to the extraordinary literary output of the American South during the social turmoil of the past century and underscores the fact that modern Southern Literature stands as one of the great literary genres the world has produced. The list also underlines the fact that modern Southern Literature is a product of the genius of both African-American and white Southern authors.

The Top 25 Great Southern Books

The Next 100 Great Southern Books


The Top 25 Great Southern Books (in order)

1. Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
2. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men James Agee
3. The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner
4. The Mind of the South Wilbur Cash
5. Look Homeward, Angel Thomas Wolfe
6. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
7. The Color Purple Alice Walker
8. Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
9. Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner
10. Lanterns on the Levee William Alexander Percy
11. All the King's Men Robert Penn Warren
12. The Collected Short Stories Eudora Welty
13. The Civil War: A Narrative Shelby Foote
14. The Moviegoer Walker Percy
15. Tobacco Road Erskine Caldwell
16. Black Boy Richard Wright
17. Cane Jean Toomer
18. Native Son Richard Wright
19. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
20. Gone With the Wind Margaret Mitchell
21. Up from Slavery Booker T. Washington
22. The Last Gentleman Walker Percy
23. The Complete Stories Flannery O'Connor
24. The Collected Stories Katherine Anne Porter
25. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman Ernest Gaines

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The Next 100 Great Southern Books
(alphabetically, by author)

  • A Death in the Family, James Agee
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • The View from Pompey's Head, Hamilton Basso
  • The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild, Doris Betts
  • Dirty Work, Larry Brown
  • Black Thunder, Arna Bontemps
  • Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Robert Olen Butler
  • Brother to a Dragonfly, Will Campbell
  • God's Little Acre, Erskine Caldwell
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman Capote
  • I Am One of You Forever, Fred Chappell
  • The Awakening, Kate Chopin
  • Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy
  • A Childhood: the Biography of a Place, Harry Crew
  • Deliverance, James Dickey
  • Speak Now Against the Day, John Egerton
  • Sanctuary, William Faulkner
  • The Unvanquished, William Faulkner
  • Go Down, Moses, William Faulkner
  • Intruder in the Dust, William Faulkner
  • Independence Day, Richard Ford
  • From Slavery to Freedom, John Hope Franklin
  • Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier
  • A Gathering of Old Men, Ernest Gaines
  • A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines
  • Death of the Fox, George Garrett
  • Ellen Foster, Kaye Gibbons
  • Victory Over Japan, Ellen Gilchrist
  • Barren Ground, Ellen Glasgow
  • The Keepers of the House, Shirley Ann Grau
  • Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, Allan Gurganus
  • Roots, Alex Haley
  • Dreams of Sleep, Josephine Humphreys
  • Dust Tracks on the Road, Zora Neale Hurston
  • Mules and Men, Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, James Weldon Johnson
  • Let the Dead Bury the Dead, Randall Kenan
  • Our Southern Highlanders, Horace Kephart
  • The Velvet Horn, Andrew Lytle
  • Shiloh and Other Stories, Bobbie Ann Mason
  • Suttree, Cormac McCarthy
  • Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
  • All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy
  • The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
  • Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Carson McCullers
  • The South and the Southerner, Ralph McGill
  • Elbow Room, James Allan McPherson
  • Coming of Age in Mississippi, Anne Moody
  • North Toward Home, Willie Morris
  • Trainwhistle Guitar, Albert Murray
  • Wolf Whistle, Lewis Nordan
  • The Violent Bear It Away, Flannery O'Connor
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor
  • Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor
  • Mystery and Manners, Flannery O'Connor
  • Everything That Rises Must Converge, Flannery O'Connor
  • Lancelot, Walker Percy
  • Love in the Ruins, Walker Percy
  • Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter
  • Ship of Fools, Katherine Anne Porter
  • Edisto, Padgett Powell
  • A Long and Happy Life, Reynolds Price
  • Kate Vaiden, Reynolds Price
  • Collected Stories, Reynolds Price
  • I'll Take My Stand, John Crowe Ransom,et al
  • Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed
  • O Beulah Land, Mary Lee Settle
  • Oral History, Lee Smith
  • Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith
  • Strange Fruit, Lillian Smith
  • Killers of the Dream, Lillian Smith
  • The Voice at the Back Door, Elizabeth Spencer
  • The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Spencer, Elizabeth Spencer
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron
  • Lie Down in Darkness, William Styron
  • Sophie's Choice, William Styron
  • The Fathers, Allen Tate
  • The Collected Stories, Peter Taylor
  • A Summons to Memphis, Peter Taylor
  • The Old Forest and Other Stories, Peter Taylor
  • Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  • In Search of Our Mother's Gardens, Alice Walker
  • Jubilee, Margaret Walker
  • World Enough and Time, Robert Penn Warren
  • The Optimist's Daughter, EudoraWelty
  • A Curtain of Green, Eudora Welty
  • Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty
  • The Golden Apples, Eudora Welty
  • One Writer's Beginnings, Eudora Welty
  • The Robber Bridegroom, Eudora Welty
  • The Ponder Heart, Eudora Welty
  • Losing Battles, Eudora Welty
  • You Can't Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe
  • The Burden Of Southern History, C. Vann Woodward
  • The Strange Career of Jim Crow, C. Vann Woodward
  • Uncle Tom's Children, Richard Wright


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