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Best revisionist western fiction novels

Lonesome Dove

Larry McMurtry

This random mix of anti-western fiction is, by definition, unfinished - so come back for more recommendations later.

There is no  ranking, so you be the judge as to which is 'best'. This list of literary westerns is determined by opinions from several sources. Some have been western classics for decades (or even longer!), whilst others have be forced onto western genre bestseller shelves following box-office success as feature films or TV series.

For those reasons, Brokeback Mountain (initially an Annie Proulx short story in Close Range) rubs shoulders with Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage and Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. Works by the latter revisionist western author, as well as Cormac McCarthy could fill a page on their own in terms of current popular western fiction.

Links from the book covers below will take you to full descriptions of each title, a chance to read an excerpt in most cases, as well as an ability to purchase.

More on revisionist western fiction as a genre is on the previous page...

True Grit

Charles Portis

Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy

The Virginian

Owen Wister

Riders of the Purple Sage

Zane Grey

No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy

Little Big Man

Thomas Berger

In the Distance is a 2017 novel by writer and professor Hernán Diaz
New York Times bestselling author of The Downstairs Girl, Stacey Lee's debut novel is a powerful story about love, friendship, and sacrifice.
My Ántonia is a novel published in 1918 by American writer Willa Cather, set in the Nebraska plains
Whiskey When We're Dry by John Larison. In the spring of 1885, 17-year-old Jessilyn Harney finds herself orphaned and alone on her family's homestead.


Louis L'Amour

Close Range

Annie Proulx


Oakley Hall

In the Distance

Hernan Diaz

Under a Painted Sky    Stacey Lee 

My Antonia

Willa Cather

Whiskey When We're Dry 

John Larison

Angle of Repose is a 1971 novel by Wallace Stegner
C Pam Zhang’s How Much of These Hills Is Gold takes readers to the time of the gold rush.
The Trace alludes to the heyday of the Western very directly — at the heart of it is a couple traveling through Mexico following the route of writer Ambrose Bierce, who disappeared when covering the Mexican Revolution in 1913.
Set in North Dakota and focusing on the uneasy history between a town and a nearby Ojibwe reservation, The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Discover Thomas Savage's dark poetic tale of a small town in early 20th century America.

Angle of Repose

Wallace Stegner

How Much of These Hills is Gold 

C Pam Zang

The Trace

Forrest Gander

The Plague of Doves

Louise Erdrich

The Power of the Dog

Thomas Savage

For a comparison between revisionist western fiction (anti-westerns) and classic westerns - read the previous page

Treat yourself to the hardcover edition of Wild Hearts Roam Free

Gentler Revisionist Western Fiction

Romantic author J S Morey brings a gentler tone to the revisionist western fiction literary genre.

Set in the traditional territory of Wyoming grasslands favoured by the classic western authors, Wild Hearts Roam Free and Wild Hearts Come Home are available as eBooks, Paperback and - for a special treat or as a gift - in hardback - all on Amazon.

Links to a free sample read are from each book cover.

Wild Hearts Come Home in hardback makes a fine gift
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