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Sanora Babb (1907–2005)

Författare till Whose Names Are Unknown

8+ verk 394 medlemmar 15 recensioner 1 favoritmärkta

Verk av Sanora Babb

Associerade verk

The Best American Short Stories 1960 (1960) — Bidragsgivare — 11 exemplar
The Best American Short Stories 1950 (1950) — Bidragsgivare — 3 exemplar
The Grub Street Book of Verse: 1930 (1928) — Bidragsgivare, vissa utgåvor3 exemplar


Allmänna fakta

Otoe Indian Community, Oklahoma, USA
Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Hollywood Hills, California, USA
Oklahoma, USA (birth)
Colorado, USA
University of Kansas
Forgan High School
Radio Scriptwriter
poet (visa alla 7)
short story writer
Saroyan, William (friend)
Communist Party
Chinese Historical Society of Southern California
League of American Writers
Kort biografi
Sanora Babb was born in a Native American community in Oklahoma. Her father was a professional gambler who moved his family around throughout her childhood, finally settling in one-room dugout on a family farm near Lamar, Colorado. Sanora did not attend school until the age of 11, but managed to graduate as class valedictorian of the local high school. She attended the University of Kansas, but could not afford to continue, and after a year transferred to the Garden City Junior College. She began working as a journalist for The Garden City Herald, and several of her articles were reprinted by the Associated Press. In 1929, she moved to Los Angeles hoping to work for the LA Times, but with the start of the Great Depression, the job evaporated. Sanora was homeless for a while but eventually found temporary work as a secretary with Warner Brothers, among others. She also wrote short stories and radio scripts. Like many other writers on the political left in the 1903s, she joined the U.S. Communist Party and visited the Soviet Union; she later quit the party. In 1938 she returned to California to work for the Farm Security Administration. She traveled the Central Valley and kept a detailed journal on the tent camps of the Dust Bowl migrants, which she used to write her novel, Whose Names Are Unknown. Random House planned to publish it, but John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath had just been issued and Sanora's book was shelved; it was not published until 2004, a year before her death. Sanora Babb met her future husband, James Wong Howe, the Chinese-American cinematographer, before World War II. In 1937, they traveled to Paris to marry, but their marriage was not legally recognized in California for several years because of anti-miscegenation laws. In the early 1940s, Sanora Babb was West Coast secretary of the League of American Writers. She edited the literary magazine The Clipper and its successor The California Quarterly, helping to introduce the works of Ray Bradbury and B. Traven, and contributed her own short stories to many periodicals. Two of her stories were chosen for the 1950 and 1960 editions of the anthology series "Best American Short Stories." She befriended many other writers, including William Saroyan and Ralph Ellison. Sanora Babb was blacklisted in the 1950s due to the influence of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and lived in Mexico City for a year to protect her husband from harassment. During this self-imposed exile, she completed The Lost Traveler (1958), inspired by her early life experiences; it became her first published novel. Her fictionalized memoir An Owl on Every Post was published in 1970.



Good account of growing up and living on an isolated Colorado farm.
kslade | 4 andra recensioner | Dec 8, 2022 |
During the Great Depression, Milt and Julia Dunne and their two young girls are struggling to survive the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. They, along with a neighboring family, travel to California, where they become migrant workers. They eventually join the labor movement.

This book has an unusual backstory. It was scheduled for publication in 1939. However, it was shelved after John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was published to wide acclaim earlier that year, since they are similar in plot. It was eventually published in 2004 when the author was ninety-seven. It takes its title from eviction notices in the Depression era.

I have now read both books. This one is more closely focused on the family’s travails and their daily interactions, whereas Steinbeck’s novel is a sweeping epic with dramatic set pieces. I see them as complementary.

As a side note, this book would make excellent reading for authors writing historical fiction set in the Great Depression era. This author lived through it and wrote this book contemporaneously.
… (mer)
Castlelass | 8 andra recensioner | Oct 30, 2022 |
“Another enrichment from our days on the plains that my sister and I share to this day is a sense of wonder as part of our love for nature. What may have appeared a desolation to others, certainly to our mother, never seemed so to us. In all that flat treeless grassland, there were modest wildflowers, rough weeds, and fragrant sagebrush many wild creatures, wolves, coyotes, wildcats, skunks, badgers, prairie dogs, snakes, birds, especially the meadowlarks with their nests on the ground and their beautiful songs.”

Sanora Babb’s memoir of her early years on the high plains of the Colorado frontier, in the 1910s, when she and her parents, sister, and grandfather lived in a one-room dugout shelter. Her father was restless and desired an independent life. He moved the family to from Oklahoma to Colorado to join his father in farming broomcorn. The family interactions are realistically drawn. The prose is evocative. It is a story of harsh weather, hunger, loneliness, and survival. I can also recommend Babb’s novel of the Great Depression: Whose Names Are Unknown.
… (mer)
Castlelass | 4 andra recensioner | Oct 30, 2022 |
It is the late 1930s and the country is still in the throes of the Great Depression. On top of that, the Oklahoma panhandle is plagued by drought and dust storms of historic proportions. The wheat farmers in the region, who struggle to make ends meet in the best of times, are becoming increasingly desperate as their crops have been wiped out for several seasons in a row. Tired of the hunger, illness, and abject poverty they face on a daily basis, many families give up and migrate to California where they hope to establish better lives. Instead, they find nothing but disillusionment in the Golden State, where they are met with contempt, humiliation, and violence from the local farm owners. Told from one family’s perspective, this is a story of the struggle to maintain one’s dignity and basic humanity in the face of almost overwhelming economic deprivation.

So, you may be thinking “Wait, I know this book—The Grapes of Wrath, right?” Well, no, but it almost was. Rather, this is the basic outline of Sanora Babb’s Whose Names Are Unknown, which was written at virtually the same instant as John Steinbeck’s classic work. However, because Babb was an unproven novelist who lacked Steinbeck's star power, her novel was not published at the time; in fact, her original publisher reneged on a contract to produce the book, fearing competition with such a notable rival. To make matters worse, it languished in manuscript form for another 65 years before finally being brought to a wider audience!

That is a real shame because while the two novels are very similar in the subject matter they cover, they do tell somewhat different versions of the story. I actually preferred Steinbeck’s detailed, well-paced, and sweeping approach, but I did appreciate Babb’s concise tale that focuses far more on personal relationships, particularly those involving the younger and female characters. It is also less heavy-handed in terms of its political motivation, which can feel a little dated to the modern reader. Still, if you have read The Grapes of Wrath, you will probably feel like you already know what Whose Names Are Unknown is all about, which makes it difficult to recommend without some reservation.
… (mer)
browner56 | 8 andra recensioner | Mar 16, 2019 |



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