As John Edwards famously said during his doomed political campaign in 2003, there are two Americas. During each modern presidential election, it’s a thoroughly disorienting experience to look around and realize that nearly 50% of the country shares beliefs that are the diametric opposite of your beliefs. Considering how fractured the U.S. is, it’s become more difficult than ever to write a unified Great American Novel. A new map of the U.S., however, highlights how some pieces become Great American Novels by the virtue of how well they represented one specific location.
Created by Philadelphia-based Hog Island Press print shop, the new Great American Novel map showcases the locations of 42 esteemed works of fiction. It’s a sweeping survey of how much region-defining drama has resonated throughout the nation’s history. In some cases, the GAN designation is kind of a stretch. (The Shining is a great read, obviously, but Great, it ain’t.) Overall, however, the map is a reminder that understanding more about the pieces that make up the whole might help the two Americas resemble each other more.