I recommend Rorty's Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity as one of the best examinations of what it means to be a liberal in the modern world. It consists largely of discussions of writers such as Orwell and Nabokov.
Rorty is normally seen as one of the trendier postmodern philosophers, questioning our notions of truth. But if I am honest I like this book because it represents a rather old-fashioned sort of literary criticism. Rorty still believed that good novels can tell us important things about the world and how we should live our lives.
Thanks to Crooked Timber.
Later. Christopher Hayes writes on the Nation site:
Rorty had an uncanny ability to stare into the post-modern abyss, in which nothing is grounded in the divine or universal, and yet somehow, some way, find a kind of practical empathy that could serve as a beacon in the face of nihilism, authoritarianism and cruelty.