Year of Great Books

Growing Up My Ántonia

The writer and radio host Kurt Andersen talks about reading Willa Cather under the epic prairie skies of his native Nebraska.


The Nebraskan landscape is a central character in My Ántonia.


This article is part of a Year of Great Books, a Slate Academy. To learn more, read Laura Miller’s introduction to the series, or visit

The Nebraskan landscape is a central character in My Ántonia, our third Year of Great Books selection—so much so that we decided to ask Kurt Andersen, a native of the Cornhusker State, to remember what it was like to read Willa Cather for the first time. Kurt is the host of the public radio program Studio 360 and the author, most recently, of True Believers.

Don’t worry if you haven’t already finished reading My Ántonia—there are no spoilers in this discussion. In two weeks we’ll reconvene for a complete recap of the novel with TV critic Willa Paskin. In the meantime, join the discussion in our private Facebook group.

P.S. Audible is still offering Slate Plus members a complimentary audiobook of My Ántonia. Don’t forget to claim yours!

To access all features of this Slate Academy, visit