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Erskine Caldwell Novels

"First, in order best to judge a writer's achievement, we must include a judgement of his work at its finest." - - Ronald Wesley Hoag in Erskine Caldwell Reconsidered (1989)

Since Caldwell wrote 25 novels, the reader might wonder where to begin. It is generally agreed that Caldwell's most productive period in fiction writing took place in the dozen years spanning roughly 1932-1944. If one were to start with his most celebrated novels, therefore, they would include the following:

Tobacco Road (1932)
Tenacity in the spirits of men and women deserted by God and man. In 1998, The Modern Library named it one of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century.
Jeeter Lester says of God that "Him and me have always been fair and square with each other . . . I don't know nothing else to do, except wait for Him to take notice".

God's Little Acre (1933)
Censored by the Georgia Literary Commission, banned in Boston, attacked by the New York Society for the Suppression of vice, this is one of the best-selling novels of all time.
"A beautifully integrated story of the barren southern farm and the shut southern mill, and one of the finest studies of the southern poor white which has ever come into our literature." - - Saturday Review of Literature
"There was a mean truth played on us somewhere. God put us in the bodies of animals and tried to make us act like people." - - Ty Ty Walden

Journeyman (1935)
Part allegory, part tall tale this story derives from a tradition of folklore.
"Now it seems one of his finest fictional works, a surprisingly complex and sophisticated study of fundamentalist evangelical religions in the depression-era South." - - Edwin T. Arnold, Foreword to 1995 edition

Trouble in July (1940)
This story of a lynch mob contains "some of the most laughable, human, and terrifying pages Caldwell has ever written." - - Richard Wright in New Republic March 11, 1940

The Sacrilege of Alan Kent (1936)
Neither a novel nor a collection of short stories, The Sacrilege is often called a "prose-poem".
"Once the sun was so hot a bird came down and walked beside me in my shadow."

Georgia Boy (1943)
A collection of 14 interrelated stories narrated by a twelve-year-old-boy. Sometimes listed as a novel, it is at other times classified as a collection of stories.
"One of the finest novels of boyhood in American literature." - - James Korges, Erskine Caldwell (1969)

"His creativity enabled him to fashion some of the finest fiction in American literature." - - Wayne Mixon, The People's Writer (1995)


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