This week the American Library Association is commemorating all the books that have ever been removed from library shelves and classrooms. NPR has an interesting profile of one of them, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Although an iimmediate best seller when it was published in 1939, the novel touched a lot of nerves in its raw portrayal of one Oklahoma family’s migration to California. Officials of Kern County, CA, where the Joad family end their journey, objected to their unsympathetic depiction in the book and voted to ban Steinbeck’s work from county libraries and schools. Despite a letter from librarian Gretchen Knief asking that the ban be overturned, arguing that "ideas don’t die because a book is forbidden reading," the ban remained in effect for a year and a half. These dramatic events are detailed in Rick Wartzman’s Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, a portion of which is excerpted in the NPR article.
Banned Books Week: The Grapes of Wrath
By October 2, 2008on