Wendell Berry On Mark Twain: Every Writer is a Regional Writer

"He (Mark Twain) taught American writers to be writers by teaching them to be regional writers. The great gift of Huckleberry Finn, in itself and to us, is its ability to be regional without being provincial. Provincialism is always self-conscious. It is the conscious sentimentalization of or condescension to or apology for a province. In its most acute phase, it is the fear of provinciality ... Mark twain apparently knew, or had the grace to trust Huck Finn to know, that every writer is a regional writer, even if he or she writes about a fashionable region such as New York City. The value of this insight, embodied as it is in a great voice and a great tale, is simply unreckonable. If he had done nothing else, that would have made him indispensable to us". - Wendell Berry, "Writer and Region", The Bread Loaf Anthology of Contemporary American Essays 

When I think of great authors, I can almost immediately call a region to mind: Steinbeck (California), Willa Cather (Nebraska), Faulkner (Mississippi), Sandburg (Chicago), Dickens (London), Dostoevsky (Russia) ... the list could go on and on. In her essay "The Regional Writer", Flannery O'Connor wrote, "the best American fiction has always been regional" and that in reading "regional" writers we are always "reading a small history in a universal light".