The gist: Steinbeck’s Pullitzer Prize winning novel, released in 1939, told the all too familiar story of the effects of the Great Depression on the rural poor. Focusing on a family of sharecroppers, the Joads, who were driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. With nowhere left to turn, they set out for California along with thousands of other "Okies" in search of land, jobs and dignity. Why was it banned? Despite the book being championed by the literary elite, it was publicly banned in the US and burned en masse by the general population. People were shocked by its description of the poor, which Steinbeck later admitted was a sanitised version of what was really going on in these remote communities.