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5 World-Famous Writers from LA You Should Know About

Los Angeles is a true kaleidoscope of art and culture. The fame and gold rush has captivated the entire world, making this city one of the favorite hubs for artists. Among the aspiring actors, LA also witnessed the rise of many talented writers.

In this article, you will find the list of five LA writers whose works are well-known in many corners of the world.

Joan Didion

The literary history of Los Angeles is incomplete without mentioning Joan Didion. Born in Sacramento, California, she became a true star when she moved to LA in the 1960s.

Whether you are majoring in English or writing a custom research paper on US literature, it is worth knowing about this iconic writer of LA. Didion is often associated with the “cool chic” image, which became well known through her sensational and explicit reportage of the city.

During her years at the University of California, her story on the San Francisco Architect William Wilson won her a Vogue essay contest. She subsequently worked as a research assistant for the magazine.

When she left Vogue after seven years, she was the associate feature editor. She published her first novel Run, River in 1963 before she moved to LA. There she continued to write film reviews for Vogue.

Her works include essays, screenplays, stage plays, and novels that brought the lifestyle of LA to the wider attention of the world. Her book Play It As It Lays is considered one of the best works that reflect the perfect sense of LA.

Walter Mosley

Famous for his crime thrillers, Walter Mosley brings into life the neglected parts of Los Angeles in his books.

As a native, he depicts the inner-city life of the LA, along with the slang and period detail. Those add a layer of authenticity to the setting.

This American mystery author is most acclaimed for his first novel Devil in a Blue Dress. It was later made into a movie starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals.

In his following works, he created characters often confronted with social and moral dilemmas. His other notable works include A Little Yellow Dog, Gone Fishin’, Little Scarlet, and more.

Most of the books probe the issues of race and prejudice with impressive subtlety. Mosley has also worked in other genres, such as science fiction.

Charles Bukowski

Born German, but an Angeleno in every way, Charles Bukowski is known for his vivid prose reflecting the depravity of American urban life. After briefly attending Los Angeles City College, he moved to New York to pursue his passion for writing. Failing to bring up a successful career there, he gave up on aspirations by the 1940s.

During the next ten years, he traveled across the country, ending up in Los Angeles. Here he started publishing poetry in 1955.

At first, his works, beginning with Flower Fist and Bestial circulated through the underground publishing houses. It was only in 1963 that he published a collection of poems called It Catches My Heart in Its Hands that he received wide recognition.

Viet Thanh Nguyen

The 2016 Pulitzer prize winner, told the layered story of an immigrant in his award-winning book The Sympathizer. The protagonist here is caught between two countries and two minds – individual loyalties and political beliefs.

In his first novel, Viet Thanh Nguyen has summarised the legacy of the Vietnam war and received a long list of awards for the work.

Viet Thanh Nguyen himself is a Vietnamese Immigrant raised in the US. He is currently the Aerol Arnold Chair of English.

He teaches English and American Studies at the University of Southern California. He also contributes to the New Yorker, TriQuarterly, and the Chicago Tribune. His works vocalize the legacy of the Vietnam war, issues on immigration, and the challenges faced by refugees.

Maggie Nelson

Among the contemporary writers of LA, Maggie Nelson’s works defy categorization. She effortlessly combines genres, creating hybrids of poetry, scholarship, and non-fiction work.

Her book The Argonauts was widely acclaimed and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2015. In 2016, she also received the MacArthur “genius” grant. The novel was considered a brilliant and intimate portrayal of her marriage with Harry Dodge, addressing the social perceptions about gender fluidity.

Maggie calls her own works an articulation of her many versions, as a poet, as a memoirist, an essayist, and the protagonist who makes her readers feel relatable.

She deliberately “violates her privacy,” focusing on her own childhood, marriage, and personality. Her intensive and truthful approach to portraying personal experience has bestowed her as a “queer” writer of the era.

Wrapping Up

Los Angeles continues to be the destination for dreamers. The list of incredible writers from LA or writing about LA is never-ending.

Start with these five, and you will soon find yourself immersed in the eloquence of LA literature.

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