SAN DIEGO (AP) _ John Steinbeck IV, son of the late prize-winning author John Steinbeck, filed a petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for liquidation of his debts.

The hand-written petition filed Monday by Steinbeck, acting as his own attorney, lists debts of $19,659 and property assets of $936.

Steinbeck, who identified himself in the petition as a self-employed writer, listed income of less than $24,000 annually in royalties from his father's estate.

Efforts to telephone Steinbeck at his La Jolla residence were unsuccessful.

One phone call was answered by a youth who identified himself as Steinbeck IV's 17-year-old son. The youth said his father is the late author's son.

The boy also said he and his father have lived in La Jolla for about 18 months since moving from Colorado.

John Steinbeck, who died in New York in 1968 at age 66, won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962 and the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. He such such works as ''The Grapes of Wrath,'' ''Of Mice and Men,'' ''East of Eden'' and ''Cannery Row.''

Steinbeck married Carol Henning in 1930. They divorced in March 1943 and later that year he married Gwyn Conger. They had two sons, Tom and John. Steinbeck married a third time, in December 1950, to Elaine Scott.