Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Great American Novel

Calling all readers! I've been given the assignment for my French class to make a short presentation about an American novel. Although I'm a big reader, I figured I could use some input. Plus I'd like to pick something a little less obvious than, say, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Red Badge of Courage. Ideally, it should be a real slice of Americana but simple in its language (for those who are not English speakers who would like to read it in the original version) and perhaps translated broadly (for those who are not English speakers). For the record, my classmates are from Brazil, Chile, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, and Zimbabwe. The two teachers are naturally French. Your suggestions, please.

17 comments:

La Mom said...

How about All the King's Men? Love that one. It might be interesting for non-American readers as it delves into corruption and power in the American political system.

La Mom
An American Mom in Paris

jonnifer said...

Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Dead Man Walking by Helen Prejean

My Antonia by Willa Cather (I never read it but it sounds like it could work)

DiaryofWhy said...

I love the idea of going with something aimed at young adults, especially if your audience are not native English speakers. I'd recommend Where the Red Fern Grows or the Yearling. (As long as you're ready to bawl your eyes out).

Carolyn said...

To Kill a Mockingbird is definitely a great American novel, and might be of interest due to Obama having just been elected. Also some of your classmates may have seen the film with Gregory Peck.

It's definitely one of my favourite books of all time and one I'd be proud to present as an example of the country's literature.

Sounds like a good assignment!

Rasmenia said...

Hi -

I would have loved to have an assignment like this one when I was taking French classes in Paris - I envy you!

Upon reading your post, the first book that jumped into my head was "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac. A book about being on the road in America is a nice slice of Americana, & Kerouac lived in Paris for a time & also spoke French. ;)

Good luck with the assignment & I hope you have fun with it!

Cheers!

Starman said...

I don't think I can offer anything since most of my reading is blogs or technical manuals. It has been a long time since I read anything that wasn't non-fiction.

Daniel said...

How about an Updike novel, to honor his recent passing.

Stacy said...

Fun! Anything by Steinbeck or Wharton would be great! Dreiser's Sister Carrie is fantastic. I'm currently reading Maya Angelou's biographies, those are gems. As are other famous African-American writers (and they're probably a bit more contemporary)-- Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Richard Wright, etc...

jack said...

How about "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
or "Main Street" by Sinclair Lewis
or "Ragtime" by E.L. Doctorow

Anne said...

Wow...ask readers about books and look what happens. Thanks for all the great suggestions. Now I just have to make a decision.

Anonymous said...

what about little house on the praire..it's simple english but a great story....

Meg said...

I was going to suggest The Great Gatsby, too. I think it gives a slice of the not-so-stereotypical stereotype of American excess.

Or maybe Little Women (my own personal fav) by Louisa May Alcott.

Sarah said...

I third Gatsby.

Also Catcher in the Rye.

Or for something less "classic", but still very much a slice of Americana, how about the Stephen King novella "The Body" which was adapted into the movie STAND BY ME.

bijou said...

I agree with Toni Morrison or Alice Walker. I also agree with To Kill a Mockingbird and possibly Tennessee Williams? Kerouac is a great selection too.

Does it have to be literature? An autobiography might be interesting too a la Barack Obama, Maya Angelou, or a biography on one the first Presidents? 1776?

Anonymous said...

The Catcher in the Rye is another good one. But my first choice would also be To Kill a Mockingbird

Amy said...

Indpendence Day by Richard Ford. Obscure, i know, but very american. Plus I think it won a national book award
Amy

CelticBuffy said...

I have to agree on "To Kill A Mockingbird". It's one book I read as a high school student that sticks in my memory some twenty years later. Another book, not quite as common, and representing a different segment of America is "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton.

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