In his time, and sometimes in ours, John Steinbeck was accused of oversentimentalizing the plight of America’s poor and of distorting the picture of inequality in California. And yet his work continues to strike chords all over the world.
Wandering the Internet, I found this dedication from a thesis on Steinbeck, written at the University of Bangui from the Central African Republic: “To all my fellow countrymen who endured and still endure almost the same martyrdom as the Okies.” One of Steinbeck’s motivation to write was the search for justice: “I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this.”
This kind of outrage also demonstrates why Michael Moore is a traveler in Steinbeck’s path. Moore needs little introduction as director of Bowling for Columbine, Capitalism: A Love Story and Sicko, the film that helped make the issue of health-care reform unignorable in the 2008 election.
On Oct 14, Moore is coming to San Jose to receive the Steinbeck Award at Morris Dailey Auditorium at San Jose State University.
The John Steinbeck Award—given to those who prove their worth as “planetary patriots,” as Steinbeck’s son Thomas put it—has previously been given to Garrison Keillor, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and Studs Terkel.
As Moore put it recently on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC, “For these past 20 years, and before that, growing up in Flint, Michigan, I’ve been a witness to a modern day Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck spoke about those who were exploited and defenseless … that exists even more these days.”
Advance tickets are $25 general, $15 for students. Buy Tickets Here.