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The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath is a novel written by John Steinbeck in 1939. The realistic novel tells the story of poor folks, leaving the Dust Bowl, and moving on. He follows the Joad family and describes the hardships of life as migrant agricultural workers in the 1930s in the United States. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.

When Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (1962), the Swedish Academy called the book "an epic chronicle."

There is a reference in the Battle Hymn of the Republic, by Julia Ward Howe, when she describes the Messiah as "trampling out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored,"

The film was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck in 1940. John Ford won the Academy Award for Directing, as did Jane Darwell for Best Supporting Actress. Other nominations were for Best Picture, Henry Fonda for Best Actor, Robert L. Simpson for Best Film Editing, Edmund H. Hansen for Best Sound Recording, and Nunnally Johnson for Best Screenplay Writing. The film has subsequently been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Woody Guthrie wrote The Ballad of Tom Joad the night he saw the film. He described the film in a column:

"Shows the dam bankers men that broke us and the dust that choked us, and comes right out in plain old English and says what to do about it.

It says you got to get together and have some meetins, and stick together, and raise old billy hell till you get youre job, and get your farm back, and your house and your chickens and your groceries and your clothes, and your money back." (reprinted in Woody Sez, New York, NY, 1975, p. 133.)

The novel is frequently assigned in high school literature classes and in 2001, it would be listed as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century as selected by the editorial board of the American Modern Library.

See also T.C. Boyle's The Tortilla Curtain (1995) for a novel with a similar subject matter.