Seventy-five years ago this month, John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath. The anniversary is as good an excuse as any to go back and crack open this gorgeous, painful, Biblical epic.
I wrote about The Grapes of Wrath and its continuing power and relevance for the The Barnes & Noble Review:
Freedom in America has always been entwined with freedom of movement. The freedom to immigrate, the freedom to relocate from one state to the next, the freedom to wander without being hassled. That’s one of the reasons John Steinbeck’s coruscating epic of exodus, The Grapes of Wrath, hit bestseller lists like a bomb when it was published in 1939. It wasn’t a novel about people taking wing and transforming themselves in new settings. Steinbeck showed Americans heading west to better themselves like waves of people before them, only to be blocked, harried, fenced in, run off, denied.
Seventy-five years later, the novel still speaks to us for this same reason…