Publisher: The Viking Press-James Lloyd, New York, 1939
The Grapes of Wrath is a novel published in 1939 and written by John Steinbeck, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a nearly hopeless situation, partly because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, they set out for California along with thousands of other “Okies” in search of land, jobs and dignity. When preparing to write the novel, Steinbeck wrote: “I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects].” The book won Steinbeck a large following amongst ordinary people and the working class, partly due to the book’s sympathy to the worker’s movement and its accessible style.
The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school and college literature classes. A celebrated Hollywood film version, starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford, was made in 1940; the endings of the book and the movie differ greatly.