Steinbeck in California: The Man and the Writer

The Grapes of Wrath Big Read explores farming, cooking, arts, music and movies, and Steinbeck, the man and writer. Continuing a fifteen-library “community read” launched this fall, the Fireseed Alliance and collaborating organizations offer a broad array of programs offering a look back into Depression-era America and a look at how the book’s themes resonate today. According to project director Blanche Milligan, the book is an excellent bridge to contemporary issues including the changes in farming in New Hampshire, poverty, income disparity, foreclosures, climate change, and how individuals and governments respond to a human crisis caused by both man and nature. Participating libraries include Amherst, Bedford, Bow, Brookline, Dunbarton, Goffstown, Greenville, Greenfield, Hollis, Lyndeborough, Mason, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston, and Wilton. Each has hosted a discussion of the book or will host one in October. 


Events range from talks on local agriculture to music of the dust bowl, from local history exhibits to painting and cooking classes. On Tuesday, October 4, in Amherst, and Wednesday, October 5 in Bow, Dartmouth College Research Fellow Ron Edsforth discusses Revisiting the Great Depression and the New Deal: A 21st- Century Interpretation of the Documentary Photography of the 1930s. On Thursday, October 27 at St. Anselm College in Manchester, biographer and poet Jay Parini delivers the keynote address on Steinbeck in California: The Man and the Writer and discusses the novel’s many contemporary connections. Read more about each event at


This project received one of 77 Big Read grants awarded to cultural organizations across the country for 2016-2017 by the National Endowment for the Arts.


The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.