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The Dark Earth and Selected Prose from the
Depression Era

"This book is a fitting monument to a rare and extraordinary writer whose nuanced fiction and journalism engage the politics of everyday life. Babb explores the lived experience of the overlooked people stranded or kicked to the sidelines by the remorseless class, gender and racial oppression of the Depression era. With verve and empathy, she shapes our perceptions of what it is to be human in a well-timed collection that speaks to our own moment of protest and reflection." —Alan Wald, author of Exiles from a Future Time: The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth-Century Literary Left

A new collection of short stories and journalism by Sanora Babb, written between 1932 and 1949, brings to life the painful period of the Great Depression. Arranged chronologically, from early autobiographical short fiction to her leftist journalism and later more innovative fiction, Babb's work interweaves fiction and non-fiction into her characteristic storytelling, lyrical style.

With unique insight, Babb writes with a passion and empathy gained through personal experiences that Erin Royston Battat details in her introduction. From Babb's work with the Farm Security Administration and as a labor organizer, she was eyewitness to the lives of displaced farmers and immigrant laborers, striking miners and refugees. She recorded their experiences of food insecurity, of jailings and beatings by sheriffs and strike-breakers with a sympathetic ear and an unblinking eye. Whether real or fictional, the people in these pages may suffer within a system that fails them more often than not, but they are also bursting with potential and desire.

Babb advocates for workers in her journalism, and in her short stories she expresses the beauty and pain of struggling individuals. While some of Babb's stories may seem quaint to modern readers, they survive the test of time through their powerful evocation of a sense of place, sensitivity to complex family relationships, and environmental or eco-feminist sensibility.