Author Connie May Fowler once said, “We don’t know ourselves until we see ourselves in art, until we’ve reflected back at us. That’s why I think it’s so important that every region of the country have writers who are willing to look at it and take a real tough stance about it.”
The South is known for its rich literary history and culture. Authors like William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Walker Percy, Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor not only used the South as a setting for their stories, but as characters, too.
It might be hard to determine what the quintessential book is for each region or state, but writers at Brooklyn Magazine believe they’ve done it by compiling what they’re calling The Literary United States: A Map of the Best Book for Every State.
“We wanted to come up with a list that was more than just a general reflection of a place,” writes Kristin Iversen from Brooklyn Magazine. “No one book, after all, can completely capture the spirit of something so unwieldy as a state. And yet there are those stories that so beautifully evoke a time and a place and a way of life that it becomes close to impossible to separate the literary perception of a place from its reality—one winds up informing the other.”
So what did they choose for Alabama?
You guessed it: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Lee’s novel, which was published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize, will always be a giant in Alabama’s literary history. The writers from Brooklyn Magazine also selected a quote from each book that sums up why that book is a successful representation of each state. This quote from To Kill a Mockingbird acknowledges that Alabama isn’t perfect while also showing a softer side of the state.
“The time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.”
Here’s the entire map: