In politics, mention of the Great Depression evokes Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal; in painting, it summons up images of federally funded WPA murals depicting the nation's workforce. And in American letters, the work most synonymous with those hard times is The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck's best-selling novel portraying the spirit-breaking poverty that overtook so much of the country's rural economy in the wake of prolonged drought and falling crop prices. When the book appeared in 1939, Steinbeck had already tasted popular success with his two novels Tortilla Flat and Of Mice and Men. Grapes of Wrath, however, earned him an acclaim that few American writers have enjoyed. No recent novel, one critic said at its publication, was "better calculated to awaken the humanity of others." In 1962, Steinbeck's literary accomplishments earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature.