John Steinbeck is certainly one of the quintessential California writers of the twentieth century. He grew up in California’s Salinas Valley in the early 1900s, surrounded by immigrants and diverse cultures. His upbringing provides a uniquely California slant to nearly all his writing.
He is best know for Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), East of Eden (1952) and his shorter novella Of Mice and Men (1937), but he also authored twenty-seven book and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
Many writers love Steinbeck’s lesser known works for what they teach us about writing. For example, his last book The Winter of Our Discontent (1961) is a stunning book that highlights his talent for subtle tension building and deep character development, and his Cannery Row (1945) has moments that can teach any writer how to create scenes that touch but do not distract.
“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” – JS
As California writers (or any writer for that matter), we may all be well served by spend some time contemplating the work of John Steinbeck.