Working-Class Literature

(Based on the writing's locale and thematic emphasis upon the working life;
short story collections are indicated)
Compiled by Larry Smith / Firelands College and
David Shevin / Central State University
*To add titles contact Smith at
[Updated February 2009]


Rebecca Harding Davis. Life in the Iron Mills or The Korl Woman (1861; rpt. 1972); Margaret Howth: A Story of To-Day (1862).

Mark Twain. The Prince and the Pauper (1882); The Tragedy of Puddinhead Wilson (1894).

William Dean Howells. The Rise of Silas Lapham (1884).

Robert Grant. Face to Face (1886).

Clinton Rose. The Silent Workman (1886).

Hamlin Garland. Main-Travelled Roads (1891).

Stephen Crane. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893).

Frank Norris. McTeague (1899).


Theodore Dreiser. Sister Carrie (1900).

Robert Herrick. The Web of Life (1900).

Frank Norris. The Octopus (1901).

Mary E. Wilkens Freeman. The Portion of Labor (1901).

Jack London. The Call of the Wild (1903); The Sea Wolf (1904).

Henry Mann. Adam Clarke (1904).

Upton Sinclair. The Jungle (1906).

Abraham Cahan. The Rise of David Levinski (1907).


Willa Cather. Oh! Pioneers! (1913); My Antonia (1915).

Upton Sinclair. King Coal (1917).

Zane Grey. Desert of Wheat (1918).

Sherwood Anderson. Winesburg, Ohio (1919).


Sinclair Lewis. Main Street (1920); Babbitt (1922).

Sherwood Anderson. Poor White (1920).

Anzia Yezierska. Salome of the Tenements (1923).

Jean Toomer. Cane (1923).

Theodore Dreiser. An American Tragedy(1925).

William Faulkner. Soldier's Pay (1926).

Ole Rolvag. Giants in the Earth (1927).

Charles R. Walker. Bread and Fire (1927).

Agnes Smedley. Daughter of Earth (1929; rpt. 1973; 1976)


Michael Gold. Jews Without Money (1930).

John Dos Passos. USA (trilogy 1930-1936)

Edward Dahlberg. Bottom Dogs (1930); From Flushing to Calvary (1931); Those Who Perish (1934)

Mary H. Vorse. Strike (1930).

Robert Cantwell. Laugh and Lie Down (1931).

John Steinbeck. Pastures of Heaven: Stories. (1932; stories); The Long Valley (1938; stories); Tortilla Flat (1935); Of Mice and Men (1937); Cannery Row (1935); In Dubious Battle (1936); The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

Grace Lumpkin. To Make My Bread (1932); A Sign for Cain(1935).

William Faulkner. Light in August (1932).

James T. Farrell. Studs Lonigan (trilogy 1932-1935); Calico Shoes and Other Stories (1934); Can All This Grandeur Perish? And Other Stories (1937).

Erskine Caldwell. Tobacco Road (1932); God's Little Acre (1933).

Fielding Burke. Call Home the Heart: A Novel of the Thirties (1932; 1983).

Jack Conroy. The Disinherited (1933).

Albert Halper. Union Square (1933; 1990).

Josephine Herbst. The Executioner Waits (1934).

Zora Neale Hurston. Mules and Men (1935; stories)..

William Saroyan. The Daring Young Men on the Flying Trapeze (1934; stories); My Name is Aram (1940; stories).

William Rollins. The Shadow Before (1934).

Henry Roth. Call It Sleep (1934).

Tess Slesminger. Time: The Present. (Stories. 1935)

Nelson Algren. Somebody in Boots (1935).

B. Traven. The White Rose (1935).

Clara Weatherwax. Marching, Marching (1935; 1976).

Thomas Bell. All Brides Are Beautiful (1936).

Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).

Harlan R. Hatcher. Central Standard Time (1937).

Leanne Zugsmith. Home Is Where You Hang Your Childhood and Other Stories (1937).

Josphine W. Johnson. Jordanstown (1937).

Joseph Vogel. Man's Courage (1938).

John Fante. Ask the Dust (1939, rpt. 1980).

Josephine Herbst. Rope of Gold (1939).

Katherine Anne Porter. Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939).

Leonard S. Zinberg. Hold with the Hares (193?)

Alberta Pierson Hannum. Thursday April (1931)

Hubert Skidmore. River Rising(1939); Hill Doctor (1940); Hawks Nest (1941).  



William Faulkner. The Hamlet ( 1940 ).

Laura Z. Hobson. The Trespassers (1940).

Carson McCullers. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940).

Jesse Stuart. Trees of Heaven (1940); Men of the Mountains (1941); Taps for Private Tussie (1943); Tales from the Plum Grove Hills (1946).

Richard Wright. Native Son (1940); Black Boy (1944).

Meridel Le Sueur. Salute to Spring (1940; stories).

James Still. River of Earth (1940).

Thomas Bell. Out of the Furnace (1941).

Nelson Algren. Never Come Morning (1942); The Man with the Golden Arm (1949); The Neon Wilderness (Stories. 1947).

Bud Shulberg. What Makes Sammy Run? (1942).

William Saroyan. The Human Comedy (1943).

John Sanford. The People from Heaven (1943).

Lilian Smith. Strange Fruit (1944).

Mike Quinn. The Big Strike (1947).

George Frietag. The Lost Land (1947).

Irving Stone. Adversary in the House (1947).

Thomas McGrath. This Coffin Has No Handles (1948).

Harriette Arnow. Hunter's Horn (1948).

Eudora Welty. TheGolden Apples (1949).


Jack Kerouac. The Town and the City (1950);On the Road (1957); The Subterraneans (1958).

Rupert Hughes. The Giant Wakes: A Novel about Samuel Gompers (1950).

Wallace Stegner. Preacher and the Slave (1950).

James Jones. From Here to Eternity (1951)

Ralph Ellison. The Invisible Man (1952).

Truman Nelson. The Sin of the Prophet (1952).

John Steinbeck. East of Eden (1952).

Harvey Swados. On the Line (1957).

Saul Bellow. The Adventures of Augie Marsh (1953).

Gwendolyn Brooks. Maud Martha (1953).

Harriette Arnow. The Dollmaker (1954).

Jerre Mangione. Mount Allegro (1954).

Hubert Selby Jr. Last Exit to Brooklyn (1954).

Wright Morris. The Field of Vision (1956).

Bernard Malamud. The Assistant (1957).

Grace Plaey. Little Disturbances of Man (Stories. 1957).

Philip Roth. Goodbye, Columbus (1959).


John Updike. Rabbit Run (1960); Pigeon Feathers (1962).

Wendell Berry. Nathan Coulter (1960);  A Place on Earth (1967, revised 1983).  

Tillie Olsen. Tell Me a Riddle: Stories (1961).

James Baldwin. Another Country (1962).

William Faulkner. The Reivers (1962).

Ken Kesey. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962); Sometimes a Great Notion (1964).

Herbert Gold. Fathers (1966).

Joyce Carol Oates. Them (1969).


Alice Walker. The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970)

Toni Morrison. The Bluest Eye (1970).

Meridel Le Sueur. Corn Village (1970; stories); Harvest and Song for My Time (1977; stories;
Reprinted as combined book Harvest Song: Collected Essays and Stories (1990; stories).

Bernard Malamud. The Tenants (1971).

Jesse Stuart. The Land Beyond the River (1973).

Wendell Berry. The Memory of Old Jack (1974).

Laura G. Hobson. The Ninth Month (1974).

Tillie Olsen. Yonnondio: From the Thirties (1974).

Grace Paley. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: Stories (1974).

Charles Nichols. The Milagro Beanfield War (1974).

Wendell Berry. The Memory of Old Jack (1974).

E.L.Doctorow. Ragtime (1975).

Maxine Hong Kingston. The Woman Warrior: Memories of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1976).

John Sayles. Union Dues (1977); The Anarchists' Convention (Stories. 1979).

Gurney Norman. Kinfolk (1977 interrelated stories).

Bob Fox. Destiny News. (1977 stories).

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Jailbird (1978).

Ernest Hebert. The Dogs of March (1979).

James Baldwin. Just Above My Head (1979).

William Styron. Sophie's Choice (1979).

Jayne Anne Philips. Black Tickets (1979; stories) 


Thomas Churchill. Centralia Dead March (1980).

J.K. Toole. Confederacy of Dunces(1980).

Annabel Thomas. The Phototropic Woman (Stories. 1981).

Russel Banks. Trailerpark (1981) ; Continental Drift (1985); Success Stories (1986; stories)

Richard Brautigan. So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away (1982)

Richard Ford. Rock Springs (Stories. 1983).

Michael Henson. Ransack (1982); A Small Room with Trouble on My Mind (Stories. 1983).

Alice Walker. The Color Purple (1982).

Charles Johnson. Oxherding Tale (1982).

Bobbie Ann Mason. Shiloh and Other Stories (1982; stories); Spence and Lila (1988); In Country (1989).

Raymond Carver. Cathedral (1983 ); What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1984; stories).

William Kennedy. Ironweed (1983).

Breece D'J Pancake. The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake (Stories. 1983).

Louise Erdrich. Love Medicine (1984).

Jayne Anne Philips. American Dreams (1984)

Chaim Potok. Davita's Harp (1985).

John Irving. The Cider House Rules (1985).

Tobias Wolff. The Barracks' Thief (1985).

Wendell Berry. The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership (1986); Remembering (1988).

Marge Piercy. Gone to Soldiers (1987).

John Fante. The Wine of Youth (1985); Full of Life (1988).

Wendell Berry. The Wild Birds: Six Stories (1986).

Denise Giandina. Storming Heaven (1987)

Robert Flanagan. Naked to Naked Goes: Stories (1987).

Toni Morrison. Beloved (1987).

Barbara Kingslover. The Bean Trees (1988); Animal Dreams (1990).

Dorothy Allison. Trash: Stories (1988).

Gretel Ehrlich. Heart Mountain (1988).

Carolyn Chute. Letourneau's Used Auto Parts (1988).

Sandra Cisneros. The House on Mango Street (1989).

Barbara Kingsolver. Homeland and Other Stories (1989; stories)..


Stuart Dybek. The Coast of Chicago (1990).

Tim O'Brien. The Things They Carried (1990).

Charles Johnson. Middle Passage (1990).

E. Annie Proulx. Postcards; The Shipping News (1991).

Tobias Wolff. This Boy's Life: A Memoir (1991).

John Sayles. Los Gusanos (1991).

Sandra Cisneros. Woman Hollering Creek & Other Stories (1991).

Dorothy Allison. Bastard Out of Carolina (1992).

Denise Giardina. The Unquiet Earth (1992).

Chris Offutt. Kentucky Straight (1992).

Denise Giardina. The Unquiet Earth (1992).

Oscar Hijuelos. The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien (1993).

David Mamet. The Cabin (1993).

Dori Sanders. Her Own Place (1993).

Sherman Alexie. The Lone Ranger sand Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven (1993; stories)

Barbara Kingslover.Pigs in Heaven (1994).

Adrian Louis. Skins (1995).

Carolyn Chute. Merry Men (1994); The Beans of Egypt, Maine (1995).

Russell Banks. The Sweet Hereafter (1991); Rule of the Bone (1995); Affliction (1998).

Bruce Olds. Raising Holy Hell (1995).

Annabel Thomas. Knucklebones. (1996).

Sharyn McCrumb. She Walks These Hills (1994); The Rosewood Casket (1996); The Ballad of Frankie Silver (1998).

Larry Smith. Beyond Rust (1996; stories); Working It Out (1998).

Chris Offutt. The Good Brother (1998); Out of the Woods: Stories (1999).


Barbara Kingsolver. Prodigal Summer (2000).

Jayne Anne Philips. MotherKind (2000).

Sharyn McCrumb. The Songcatcher (2001); Ghost Riders (2003).

Silas House. Clay's Quilt (2002); A Parchment of Leaves (2003); The Coal Tatoo (2005).

Ann Pancake. Strange as this Weather Has Been (2007)

Nicholas Coles and Janet Zandy: American Working Class Literature.Oxford University Press, 2007.
[A grand collection establishes strong working-class strand in the weave of American Literature]

Nicholas Coles and Peter Oresick, eds. Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990

Nicholas Coles and Peter Oresick, eds. For a Living: The Poetry of Work. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995.

Benjamin DeMott. ed. Created Equal: Reading and Writing About Class in America. HarperCollins, 1996.

Sandra Martz ed. If I Had a Hammer, Women's Work: In Poetry, Fiction, and Photographs. Watsonville, Ca.: Papier-Mache Press, 1990.

Charlotte Nekola and Paula Rabinowitz, eds. Writing Red: An Anthology of American Women Writers, 1930-1940. NY: The Feminist Press, 1987.

David Shevin and Larry Smith, eds. Getting By: Stories of Working Lives. Huron, OH: Bottom Dog Press, 1996. (Includes narrative poems, fiction and personal essays).

David Shevin, Janet Zandy, Larry Smith, eds. Writing Work: Writers on Working-Class Writing (Huron, OH: Bottom Dog Press, 1999).

Janet Zandy, ed. Calling Home: Working Class Women's Writings. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1990.

Courtesy of Bottom Dog Press
c/o Firelands College
Huron, Ohio 44839
Bottom Dog Press Working Lives Series
Working-Class Films Link
Appalachian Working-Class Fiction
[Not meant to be all inclusive or exclusive; add your suggestions to the list at]
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