Growing up in Manila, I always thought of California as John Steinbeck country. I didn't make a distinction between northern or southern California. I only thought of the California in "Grapes of Wrath" and "Cannery Row."
This memorable prologue by Steinbeck, who was born in Salinas, Calif., was stuck in my brain: "Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream." I always thought of Steinbeck’s stories as one big California adventure.
I feel very lucky to make that adventure myself—I’ve been living in California since 2015. In honor of my adopted home state, I rounded up my favorite novels set in California.
Top 12 Novels Set in California
These are my favorite California novels. How about you, which California novel is your favorite?
#1 "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, Viking Press, originally published in 1939
#2 "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1989
#3 "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett, Plume, 1930
#4 “There There” by Tommy Orange, Knopf, 2018
#5 "Jewel" by Bret Lott, Pocket Books, 1991
#6 “Sideways” by Rex Picketts, St. Martin’s Press, 2004
#7 "The House of Sand and Fog" by Andres Dubus III, W.W. Norton & Co., 1999
#8 "Cannery Row," by John Steinbeck, Viking Press, originally published in 1945
#9 "The Circle” by Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s, 2013
#10 "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair, Penguin Random House, originally published in 1927
#11 “Devil in a Blue Dress” by Walter Mosley, Norton, 1990
#12 "White Oleander" by Janet Fitch, Little, Brown, & Co., 1999
Note: This article was first published on my old blog on Aug. 17, 2015. I’ve updated it, from a list of 10 to 12 novels.