Top 12 California Novels

This mural serves as a landmark in the historic district of Folsom, Calif. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, Aug. 15, 2015)

This mural serves as a landmark in the historic district of Folsom, Calif. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, Aug. 15, 2015)

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

Folsom Lake in northern California. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, July 2015)

Folsom Lake in northern California. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, July 2015)

#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.

 

The California State Capitol in Sacramento. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, July 2015)

The California State Capitol in Sacramento. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, July 2015)