When John Steinbeck released The Grapes of Wrath, the book immediately evoked controversy. The story about the Dustbowl and Depression may have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize and later win its author the Nobel Prize, but at the time it was banned and burned, debated on the radio, and condemned as a communist propaganda, with a New Deal agenda too sympathetic to the plight of the workers. That was seventy years ago, but the same controversies still exist today about the works of contemporary American artists, including filmmaker Michael Moore.
That is why John Steinbeck’s eldest son Thomas Steinbeck, writer and board member of SJSU’s Center for Steinbeck Studies, commented that his father was, “the Michael Moore of his time,” as he presented Moore with the prestigious John Steinbeck Award. The award is presented annually to “writers and artists whose work embodies the spirit of Steinbeck’s values and belief in the dignity of the powerless and exploited.” Past recipients include Bruce Springsteen, Arthur Miller, Studs Terkel and Garrison Keillor.
Explaining the decision to award Moore the award, Thomas Steinbeck wrote, “When once asked what his role was as a writer, Steinbeck said it was to reconnect people with a sense of their own innate humanity. This sentiment has been the guiding principle in all choices made for the Steinbeck Award, and Mr. Moore has carried the banner higher than the world ever expected.”
Read More at NBC Bay Area.