Unknown No More: Recovering Sanora Babb
Joanne Dearcopp, Christine Hill Smith
University of Oklahoma Press, Jul 29, 2021 - Literary Criticism - 230 pages
Thanks in part to the Ken Burns documentary The Dust Bowl, Sanora Babb is perhaps best known today for her novel Whose Names Are Unknown (2004), which might have been published in 1939 had her publisher not thought the market too small for two Dust Bowl novels, hers and Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Into the twenty-first century, Babb wrote and published lyrical prose and poetry that revealed her prescient ideas about gender, race, and the environment. The essays collected in Unknown No More recover and analyze her previously unrecognized contributions to American letters.
Editors Joanne Dearcopp and Christine Hill Smith have assembled a group of distinguished scholars who, for the first time in book-length form, explore the life and work of Sanora Babb. This collection of pathbreaking essays addresses Babb’s position within the literature of the Great Plains and American West, her leftist political odyssey as a card-carrying Communist who ultimately broke with the Party, and her ecofeminist leanings as reflected in the environmental themes she explored in her fiction and nonfiction.
With literary sensibilities reminiscent of Willa Cather, Ralph Ellison, and Meridel LeSueur, Babb’s work revealed gender-based, environmental, and working-class injustices from the Depression era to the late twentieth century. No longer unknown, Sanora Babb’s life and work form a prism through which the peril and promise of twentieth-century America may be seen.
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American archive Babb’s become California called camps Center characters Cheyenne collection Colorado Communist connection critical cultural depicted Dorothy dugout Dust Bowl early Earth environmental ethic experience explore farm farmers father feelings female feminist fiction freedom frontier gender Ginny give Grandfather High Plains human imagination individualism interview John labor land later Left letter literary literature living looking Lost Traveler memoir migrant mother Names Are Unknown narrative narrator natural never notes novel offers Oklahoma pioneer poems political Post prairie present Press published Radical Ransom readers region relationship reveal Review Robin role Sanora Babb short sister social Steinbeck story studies tells thought town turn understanding United University University Press voice Wald Walter West western Wilder Wixson woman women writing wrote young