With its relative isolation and physical beauty, Key West has long been a refuge and an inspiration for writers. Not all the books on this list constitute high literature, but each is well worth reading.
Edited and with an introduction by George Murphy
This indispensable volume presents writers’ takes on the island, including those of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Tom McGuane, James Merrill and Elizabeth Bishop. A Kindle edition is available from Amazon. Print copies can be tracked down on eBay.
By Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway lived on Key West for about 10 years, and it was a place he loved greatly. This novel, published in 1937, tells the story of Harry Morgan, a boat owner who, to survive economically, becomes tangled in illicit trading between Cuba and Florida. Hemingway’s descriptions of Key West are reportorial, and the story makes for dramatic reading.
By John Hersey
Best known for his reporting on the aftermath of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Hersey is another writer who succumbed to Key West’s allure. Published after the author’s death, in 1993, these 15 short stories and sketches present a fascinating and varied look at life on the island.
By Carl Hiaasen
Hiaasen’s long career with The Miami Herald began in 1976 as a general assignment reporter. He now writes a weekly column for the paper. His fiction career began in the 1980s, and his work displays deep knowledge of the state, as well as affection, skepticism and humor. Key West features in this engaging narrative about suspended detective Andrew Yancy, who thinks he can solve the murder of a Medicare fraudster and thereby regain his job.