Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162


Genre: Fiction

Western Fiction
Key Authors:

Zane Grey


American writer and pioneer of Western as a new literary genre. Zane Grey produced over sixty books during his career. He presented the West as a moral battle ground, in which his characters are redeemed through a final confrontation with their past, or destroyed because of their inability to change. Start with, Riders of the Purple Sage.

Ivan Doig


Ivan Doig has turned his personal experiences into award-winning literary novels and personal histories of the West. Gun-play and cattle-herding take a back seat to people and places. A typical Doig Western follows a family as they attempt to settle, live, and prosper in an unforgiving environment.  Start with: The Whistling Season.

Larry McMurtry


Larry McMurtry is best known for de-romanticizing the American West. McMurtry evokes a distinct sense of place. . Leisurely-paced, long novels allow for the lyrical development of unforgettable, vivid characters, particularly the women. Start with: Lonesome Dove.

Louis L’Amour


Louis L'Amour revived the Western genre. His action-packed stories of adventure and survival are loaded with strong heroes fighting for justice and making a way for civilization. Dangers arise from the natural hazards of a given place as well as the people in it. Cultural conflict is a pervasive theme, sometimes traced across generations of family experience.  Start with: Hondo.

James Alexander Thom


James Alexander Thom sets most of his Historical Fiction in the early American frontier period, often portraying encounters and resulting clashes between the Native American and European-American cultures. His characters are well-drawn and realistic, including good and bad Europeans; three-dimensional Native Americans; and strong, believable women. Start with: Follow the River.

Titles to Try:

Death at Dark Water – John Nesbitt
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All Devon Frost was looking for was peace and quiet. An artist, he came to the remote town of Tinaja to draw the local buildings. He didn't expect to get caught in a web of lies, accusations . . . and murder. The suitor of a ranch owner's daughter has been found dead, and everyone seems quick to put the blame on another suitor. But something doesn't seem right to Devon. He can't let an innocent man die...

The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion- Loren D. Estleman
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Heading a theater troupe that journeys throughout the wild western frontier, Johnny Vermillion uses their performances as a clever cover-up for a bank robbery operation that is investigated by a suspicious Pinkerton man

The Buckskin Line – Elmer Kelton
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In 1861, Rusty Shannon, whose family was killed by a Comanche war party twenty years earlier, rides out from the family homestead to join a company of Texas volunteers dedicated to protecting settlers against Indian raids.

Eyes of Eagles- William Johnstone
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Jamie MacAllister, kidnapped by the Shawnee, flees from his enemies with Kate to Texas, where he is pressed into service to fight at the Alamo in 1836.

Appaloosa- Robert B. Parker
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Arriving in a small nineteenth-century western town where the sheriff has been killed and the residents are at the mercy of a renegade rancher, lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch face an adversary who works by playing psychological games.

Western Fiction Websites - These websites include information about Western Fiction novels, authors, reviews of books, and other information specifically for the Western Fiction reader.

Western Writers of America

Western Writers of America was founded in 1953 to promote Western literature. The site has information about books, authors, and awards.  

National Cowboy Museum

The national cowboy museum celebrates all things western including books, as well as western heritage. The National Cowboy Museum awards the Wrangler Award annually to great works of western fiction.  

Women Writing the West

Women Writing the west is a nonprofit association of writers, editors, publishers, agents, booksellers, and other professionals writing and promoting the Women's West.

Western Fiction Newsletters- If you are interested in receiving western fiction news directly in your email inbox, sign up for one of the following newsletters.

Women Writing in the West

Newsletter features information on awards, upcoming events, and other items of interest.

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

A newsletter that features news, and information regarding the national cowboy museum.

Western Fiction Awards- for more information on award winners, visit the MCLS Book Awards Page (coming soon).

Spur Awards

The spur awards are given annually by the Western Writers of American and honor outstanding western works of fiction.

Western Heritage Award

The western Heritage Award, also known as the wrangler award is given for “Outstanding Novel” in western fiction by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Willa Awards

The Willa Awards are presented by Women Writing in the West. They are presented annually for stories featuring woman which are set in the west.

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