Giants in the Earth follows Per and Beret Hansa, a Norwegian pioneer family, and their struggles with the land and the elements of the Dakota Territory as they try to make a new life in America. The book is based partly on Rølvaag’s personal experiences as a settler, and on the experiences of his wife’s family who had been immigrant homesteaders. The novel depicts snow storms, locusts, poverty, hunger, loneliness, homesickness, the difficulty of fitting into a new culture, and the estrangement of immigrant children who grow up in a new land.
Giants in the Earth was turned into an opera by Douglas Moore and Arnold Sundgaard; it won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1951.
Gregory Zankowsky ’19