Whose Names Are Unknown (2004)
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violent discrimination and providing help to one another. Whose Names Are Unknown remains strikingly relevant today in matters such as land conservation, labor relations, migration flows, refugee crises, and the government's role in the economy.
A warm reception greeted Whose Names Are Unknown when it appeared, together with Professor Lawrence Rodgers' useful introduction, in 2004 from the University of Oklahoma Press, with some reviewers considering it to be superior to Steinbeck's novel. The American Library Association's Booklist called it a "long forgotten masterpiece...A slightly less political, more female oriented, companion piece to The Grapes of Wrath." "At last," wrote Pamela J. Annas in The Women's Review of Books, "we hear the whole powerful story from the point of view of a woman who had actual experience with both the origin and the destination of the migrants."
An excerpt from Whose Names are Unknown (pp. 201-2)
They had come not to think of the rest of the world as the outside, because they had lost all the things that connected them with other people. Well, almost all the things. They still had their work, which made a link between them and the outside—but the people who hired them wanted them to feel they were not needed. They all knew if they ever believed this, they would be lost, because not to be needed is to be isolated, displaced and drying up, a dead root. If they looked at the fields they knew this was untrue. The cotton was standing in the fields unpicked. And four hundred people could not pick it all before the fogs started rolling in at night from the Pacific, making it damp. Already the cotton was a little damp in the early morning before the sun warmed it, and workers could not pick as much as when it was dry and came fluffily into their quick hands. In a little while, if they did not give up and go back to work for seventy-five cents, the company would round up some hungry people in another place and bring them in trucks with guards, and the guards, would have guns.