7 Books About Outsiders

Jonathan Dee, author of The Locals, writes about the black sheep of literature.


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“There are only two plots,” John Gardner is supposed to have said (though apparently he never actually said it); “A person goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town.”

My new novel The Locals would, in that case, be an example of Plot #2: a rich New Yorker named Philip Hadi moves full-time into the small Berkshire town where he owns a summer house. He wants to assimilate, but instead, in the end, he disrupts. The whole stranger-comes-to-town theme may be an ancient one but it is capable of endless variation; here are seven excellent works of fiction that start from the same general premise but end up in fantastically unique places.

Featured image: nuvolanevicata/Shutterstock.com; Author Photo: © Jessica Marx

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JONATHAN DEE is the author of seven novels, most recently The Locals. His novel The Privileges was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and winner of the 2011 Prix Fitzgerald and the St. Francis College Literary Prize. A former contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a senior editor of The Paris Review, and a National Magazine Award–nominated literary critic for Harper’s, he has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He lives in Syracuse, New York.

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