We all know the stereotypes associated with Westerns: cowboys, lawmen, and Native Americans; mountains, deserts, and prairies; gunfights, wagon trains, and cattle raids. Though all these things are present, they frame larger themes which are common to great literature: humankind vs. nature, the individual vs. society, and the clash of cultures. The images and stories in Westerns are an integral part of the American mythos, and are recognized around the world as quintessentially American symbols. The Western genre covers a vast range of material. The following list of authors covers classic portraits of the West like those of Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey to more contemporary visions such as that of Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx.
These authors created the images we see when we hear the word “Western.”
Some of these authors have continued the traditions of the past; while others offer alternative point of view, i.e. women of the West, Native Americans, or tell stories in a contemporary setting in which the myth of the West is an integral theme
Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Western Novel
Sponsored by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK
Given annually since 1953 for distinguished writing about the American West by the Western Writers of America.
Recent Spur Awards
Previous winners for best long form novel
None of these lists are comprehensive. If you need more recommendations, ask a librarian. WE LOVE TO HELP!
Compiled by the staff of Nashville Public Library, 2007