Immigrants in the Heartland
Willa Cather's attic room in Red Cloud, Nebraska. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Archives & Special Collections, used by permission of Lucia Woods.
When Cather published My Ántonia in 1918, the book was a major departure from the literary trends of the day. She not only strayed from the urban settings and themes that were fashionable at the time, but her characters were also new to contemporary American fiction---they were common folks and, even rarer for the time, many of them were immigrants, all presented with genuine dignity. There are many characters in the novel that are based on people Cather knew from Red Cloud, including, most importantly, Ántonia. Take a listen to the granddaughter of Ántonia.
For more information about Cather and The Big Read, check out the entire Big Read audio documentary on The Big Read website.