Some of Lewis's contemporaries said the novel was too bleak, even humorless, in its conveyance of ignorant small-town life and people. However, Main Street is generally considered[by whom?] to be Lewis's most significant and enduring work, along with its 1922 successor Babbitt.
Some small-town residents resented their portrayal and the book was banned by the public library of Alexandria, Minnesota
The novel is set in Gopher Prairie, roughly based on Sauk Centre, Minnesota, Lewis’s hometown. In his article from the Boston Globe, “Dropping by Main Street 60 Years Later,” Charles E. Claffey writes: Main Street at first evoked wrath in this town and its environs. In nearby Alexandria it was banned; the Sauk Centre Herald kept editorial silence for five months before noting in its edition of March 13, 1921: "A perusal of the book makes it possible for one to picture in his mind's eyes local characters having been injected bodily into the story."
Sinclair Lewis became persona non grata in Sauk Centre for many years, but gradually, the town forgave him, and he remains a cottage industry. Lewis, however, never really came to terms with the town of his youth. After he died in Rome, his brother Dr. Claude Lewis decided to use Lewis’s funeral urn as a memorial rather than bury it in the ground. As he opened the urn, a gust of wind sent the ashes flying. According to town lore Charles Corrigan, the mortician, commented, "Well, Lewis got away from this town after all."