Celebrating John Steinbeck in Sag Harbor

Canio’s Cultural Café in Sag Harbor is presenting “Steinbeck, In Search of America,” a series of talks, films and more celebrating Sag Harbor’s Nobel Prize-winning writer, John Steinbeck.  All are welcome to participate.  

It began in March with a talk by scholar Susan Shillinglaw on Steinbeck & the Importance of Home, followed by a May 1 presentation at the Sag Harbor Cinema about the proposed Steinbeck Writers Center project at John Steinbeck’s former Sag Harbor home.

The Sag Harbor Cinema, John Jermain Library and The Church are all participating in this community celebration.

On Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m. in the Rotunda at Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Library, there will be a discussion of “The Moon Is Down,” with guest lecturer Don Coers on John Steinbeck’s World War II novel. 

Mr. Coers will discuss the relevance of this powerful resistance story today. Richard Hart, Steinbeck Review editor, will join the discussion.

Don Coers is professor of English at Sam Houston State University in Texas. He is author of J”ohn Steinbeck as Propagandist: “The Moon Is Down” Goes to War” and “After The Grapes of Wrath: Essays on John Steinbeck.” 

“The Moon is Down” tells the story of a military occupation in a small town by an unnamed nation at war with England. 

A French language translation of the book was published illegally in Nazi-occupied France by a French Resistance publishing house. 

Numerous other editions were also secretly published across all of occupied Europe, including Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, and Italian versions (as well as a Swedish version); it was the best known work of U.S. literature in the Soviet Union during the war. 

Written with the purpose of motivating resistance movements in occupied countries, the book has appeared in at least 92 editions across the world.

On Wednesday, May 25 at 6 p.m., the Sag Harbor Cinema will host a screening of the film of “The Moon Is Down” with a question and answer session to follow.

Over the course of the weekend of Sept. 10,  The Church in Sag Harbor will hold a forum  on Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley,” documenting Steinbeck’s travels across the country, starting from Sag Harbor, with his standard poodle Charley. The forum will be led by Sarah Shillinglaw, an English professor at San Jose State University and former Director of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California. 

Canio’s Books will also host dramatic readings from Steinbeck’s work with music and celebration, and the Sag Harbor Cinema will screen “East of Eden,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “Viva Zapata!” and “The Pearl.”

We’ll have more details as they become available.

To help support this series, Canio’s Cultural Café is seeking donations at caniosculturalcafe.org/how-to-help.

The mission of Canio’s Cultural Cafe is to support and engender community interest in the cultural arts, with an emphasis on literature, visual arts, and current events.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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