(Older books have few, if any, mainstream press reviews online. See Amazon and Barnes & Noble customer reviews for some helpful ones.)
It's simply a beautiful book. Not only are characters richly drawn, but the narrative concerns—the power of community to affect change, the consequences of greed and self-interest, and the sacredness of everyday life and everyday people—seem particularly apt for today. But then those issues are apt for any era, which is why the book has achieved its iconic status.
A LitLovers LitPicks (July '08)
[I]n this epic novel, as well as in Of Mice and Men and The Pearl, Steinbeck seems to question whether the mysteries of human existence can ever be fully explained. In these works that span the grim decade from 1937 to 1947, Steinbeck urges the dispossessed to challenge a system that denies them both sustenance and dignity, and to seek the spiritual belonging that enables individuals to achieve their full humanity. So we have the paradox of the author apparently denouncing injustice while also exalting acceptance of the sorrows visited on humanity, whether those sorrows are wrought by nature or by humans themselves.... Steinbeck may be understood to charge literature with serving not only as a call to action, but as an expression and acceptance of paradox in our world. "There is something untranslatable about a book," he wrote. "It is itself—one of the very few authentic magics our species has created."
Penguin Classics Edition
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