John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. He is widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row, the multi-generation epic East of Eden, and the novellas Of Mice and Men and The Red Pony. The Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath, widely attributed to be part of the American literary canon, is considered Steinbeck's masterpiece. In the first 75 years since it was published, it sold 14 million copies.
The winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, he has been called "a giant of American letters". His works are widely read abroad and many of his works are considered classics of Western literature. His leftist political tendencies and the relatively provincial setting of his works has made him a very polarizing writer, both in the United States and in international literary circles. Until recently, the mandated teaching of his works in the British educational system has been controversial.
Most of Steinbeck's work is set in southern and central California, particularly in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region.