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Friday, March 14, 2014

Grapes of Wrath Turns 75

The Fairfax County Public Library isn't the only one celebrating a diamond anniversary this year. This April John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning saga of a migrant Dust Bowl family turns 75 as well. The Joad family's timeless search for social justice and economic security during the Depression still resonates with readers today. Even if you haven't cracked a page of The Grapes of Wrath since high school, there are a lot of interesting ways to take part in the 75th birthday of this classic.

If you’d like some company for the Joad family’s journey, consider joining NPR’s 'I Will If You Will" book club discussion. Several NPR staffers are reading it now for the first time. You can read their comments and learn how to join in the next online discussion scheduled for March 24.

For more information on the Dust Bowl, check out FCPL’s collection of nonfiction works. This includes two classic works, the Ken Burns documentary film The Dust Bowl and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Timothy Egan's book The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Both pieces bring to life the voices and stories of those who lived through this tragic time.

You may also enjoy learning about Depression-Era photographer Dorothea Lange who used her camera to bring a human face to the great Depression. Migrant Mother is perhaps the most famous of all the photographs to come out of her work in the migrant camps of California.

To hear Paul Hecht and Barbara Feldon read Steinbeck's personal musings while writing The Grapes of Wrath take a look at the Morgan Library and Museum’s offering of The Diary Podcast: Writing The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck (1902–1968). The actors give voice to Steinbeck’s doubts and challenges as he struggled to produce the novel.

The history of Route 66, dubbed the “Mother Road” by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath, is the focus of the online exhibit The People’s Highway produced by the National Museum of American History. It showcases the stories and artifacts of those who traveled the highway in the 1930s and 40s as a part of a larger exhibit America on the Move.

- Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library

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