The Day of the Locust is a 1939 novel by American author Nathanael West set in Hollywood, California. The novel follows a young artist from the Yale School of Fine Arts named Tod Hackett, who has been hired by a Hollywood studio to do scene design and painting. While he works he plans an important painting to be called "The Burning of Los Angeles," a portrayal of the chaotic and fiery holocaust which will destroy the city. While the cast of characters Tod befriends are a conglomerate of Hollywood stereotypes, his greater discovery is a part of society whose "eyes filled with hatred," and "had come to California to die." This undercurrent of society captures the despair of Americans who worked and saved their entire lives only to realize, too late, that the American dream was more elusive than they imagine. Their anger boils into rage, and the craze over the latest Hollywood premiere erupts violently into mob rule and absolute chaos.
In the introduction to The Day of the Locust, Richard Gehman writes that the novel was "more ambitious" than West's previous novel, Miss Lonelyhearts and "showed marked progress in West's thinking and in his approach toward maturity as a writer." Gehman calls the novel "episodic in structure, but panoramic in form." (wikipedia.org)