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The Top 10 Jewish Authors From The 20th Century - And Their Jewish Books

Author : Mark Etinger


Jews are imaginative people, and our creativity is not lost on gentiles. This article will list the 10 best Jewish authors, in no particular order, as well as their best Jewish books. Although some books may not represent Jewish culture overtly, it is impossible to ignore the impact of these Jewish books on the literary tradition.

1. Saul Bellow: This Jew wrote about American life in a way few others have. His most famous Jewish books include, Herzog, Henderson the Rain King, The Adventures of Augie March, and his novella Seize the Day.

2. Henry Miller: The companion novels Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn comprise two thirds of a trilogy for which Miller is best known. Although his novels were banned until the '60s, they proved to be instrumental in developing memoir-style fiction.

3. Norman Mailer: The Naked and the Dead was the most important 20th century war novel. Armies of the Night isn't too far behind, either.

4. Philip Roth: This writer earned a National Book Award with Goodbye, Columbus in 1959 and has continued to write some of the most important Jewish books in recent memory.

5. Henry Roth: His 1934 Call It Sleep, about the Jewish tenements in the Lower East Side, is a classic.

6. Arthur Miller: Arguably the best play of the 20th century, Death of a Salesman is just one reason why this playwright is on this list.

7. Elie Wiesel: Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, his Night was originally an 800 page manuscript. He continues to be an important figurehead for Holocaust survivors.

8. I.B. Singer: Receiver of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978, this writer wrote in Yiddish and wrote his English versions as his "second originals."

9. Gertrude Stein: The avant-garde writings of this lady helped to influence a generation. Without her patronage and exploration of subjectivities in literature, Picasso and other modernists would have drawn without the same kind of inspiration. To get an idea of her style, read Tender Buttons or Three Lives.

10. Shel Silverstein: The Giving Tree, Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back, and The Missing Piece are all great children's Jewish books that no childhood should be without. He also wrote Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue."

There are other famous examples of Jewish writers from throughout the ages. Today Jewish authors have a wide influence on literature and continue to produce important works. It is interesting to think about the Jewish books that will be produced during this century.


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Submitted : 2011-02-28    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 698