Outstanding Works of Law and Literature You Won’t Find on Every Other List

There’s no disputing the excellence of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Trial, and the other creative works that often appear on best-of law-and-lit lists. But there are many more novels, stories, and poems that capture what we seek through the law, how the law works in our lives, and how lawyers’ lives are affected by working in the law. Is Harper Lee’s beloved novel better than Nadine Gordimer’s The House Gun? I’ll leave that to you to decide, if you’re so inclined. In the meantime, the list below will take you from my home state, Oklahoma, through literature from twelve countries, in the end bringing you back to Oklahoma—a state in the middle of the map where you’ll find very little middle ground.  

Rilla Askew, Kind of Kin (Ecco, scheduled for release in January 2013)

Kind of Kin

Gianrico Carofiglio, A Walk in the Dark, tr. Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press, 2006)

A Walk in the Dark

Pete Dexter, Paris Trout (Random House, 1988) 

Paris Trout

Martín Espada, City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (W. W. Norton, 1993) and Imagine the Angels of Bread (W. W. Norton, 1996). Both collections contain Espada’s lawyer poems. On pages 54 and 57 of the print issue of WLT, you'll find two of these.

City of Coughing and Dead Radiators Imagine the Angels of Bread

Nadine Gordimer, The House Gun (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998) 

The House Gun

Sayed Kashua, Second Person Singular, tr. Mitch Ginsburg (Grove Press, 2010)

Second Person Singular

Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance (McClelland & Stewart, 1995)

A Fine Balance

Jay Wishingrad, ed. Legal Fictions: Short Stories about Lawyers and the Law (Overlook Press, 1992)

Legal Fictions

Lauren Zuniga, “To the Oklahoma Lawmakers,” “Women behind Bars,” and “To the Oklahoma Progressives Plotting Mass Exodus,” in Left Plains: Poems for the Oklahomies (Hummedia, 2010)

Left Plains

Michelle Johnson is WLT's managing editor. She also teaches legal writing to law students. 

She is also a lawyer who has taught law and literature courses. She currently teaches advanced persuasive writing to law students and coaches moot court teams at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

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