Tucson, AZ

If You'd Like to Read Something Set in Tucson, Arizona, Try These Two Novels (Adult Fiction)

Kate Feathers

Illustrational photoby Taryn Elliott from Pexels

Many books have been written about Arizona, and many fictional plots have been set there. The atmosphere of Arizona is so specific that I'm not even surprised authors choose to set their stories in this state.

What novels are set specifically in Tucson, I hear you ask? Good question. Let's have a look at two adult fiction novels that take place in Tucson, Arizona. If you're a local or even if you've just arrived in Tucson, these stories might make you see the city from a completely new angle. The city, in turn, will make the stories you read come alive as you can picture all the mentioned places in a very concrete light.

Here are two novels set in Tucson.

Sunland by Don Waters

The first novel that takes place in Tucson and that we'll have a closer look at is Sunland, which was written by Don Waters. The novel was published in 2013, so it's only 8 years old.

The story follows a 30-something Sid Dulaney who has moved back to Tucson in order to take care of his grandmother. A financial problem is what triggers the plot to move forward - Sid doesn't have enough money to pay for his grandmother's medication, which means he has to take drastic measures. He becomes a smuggler.

According to Don Waters' official website, Don Lee (author of The Collective) has commented on the book thus:

"Sunland couldn’t be more relevant to the issues of our time, delving into everything from drug smuggling, narcocartels, race relations, healthcare, and immigration. It’s an immersive, tough, funny, and propulsive bildungsroman, beautifully written, evoking the landscapes of Tucson and Sonora and everything in between with scorching authenticity.”

The novel has 208 pages, therefore it's quite a quick read, and it sheds some light on smuggling and the problems of healthcare, as well as family - how much are you willing to do for the ones you love?

Don Waters lives in Portland and has graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His other work includes These Boys and Their Fathers, Desert Gothic, or The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain.

The Fool's Progress by Edward Abbey

The second adult fiction novel set in Tucson is called The Fool's Progress and it was written by Edward Abbey. The book was published in 1988.

The main protagonist of the story is called Henry Holyoak Lightcap. It all begins in Tucson where his wife leaves him, and after this event, he sets off to travel to West Virginia where his childhood home used to be. He takes only his dying dog with him.

The main theme of the novel is revolting against progress and commercial society, as well as coming to terms with the memories of the past.

Goodreads describes the book in this way:

"The Fool's Progress, the "fat masterpiece" as Edward Abbey labeled it, is his most important piece of writing: it reveals the complete Ed Abbey, from the green grass of his memory as a child in Appalachia to his approaching death in Tuscon at age sixty two."

The novel is 528 pages long, so it might take you some time to read it - but if you're intrigued, definitely give the book a try.

Edward Abbey himself was a big anarchist and he died in Tucson. His other work includes The Monkey Wrench Gang, Good News, or Fire on the Mountain.

Final Thoughts

These two novels are set in Tucson, even if not for the entirety of the plot, and therefore you can broaden your knowledge of Tucson and enrich your experience of living there by reading these books.

Most of all, I hope you enjoy reading them.

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I'm a student of Languages & Comparative Literature who writes about relationships, feminism and personal growth. Discover more of my work: https://linktr.ee/clumsylinguist


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