Introduction & Notes

This guide lists more than 3,000 Jewish writers representing all literary genres (e.g., poetry, fiction, theatre), as well as other selected fields (e.g., philosophy, psychology) of creative writing, worldwide, covering contributions over more than twenty centuries.

Authors are arranged by their most commonly used last name (see Notes below), identifying major areas of writing, nationality, dates of birth and death, the title of a representative work, awards and distinctions, and a Web link, as available. See Resources for Further Study for a guide to research tools and methods.

The purpose of this document is, firstly, to provide researchers and readers with as exhaustive a list of writers of Jewish background as possible. Therefore, inclusion here is based on the broadest possible criteria: any writer self-identified as Jewish or with a Jewish parent. Note: While I try to find reliable sources,  Jewish heritage (identity, descent, lineage...) is not always easy to establish. When there is some indication of a Jewish background, I include the author on the principle of "benefit of doubt.") This leaves the decision of whom to include to researchers and students who use this list as a starting point.  

Secondly, this guide serves to document the Jewish cultural, intellectual, and historical experience and its contributions through the written word. What started as a simple list of major writers has evolved into an act of cultural rescue or memorial. Spanning more than 2,000 years and six continents, this list represents an in-gathering of Jewish thought and creativity that mirrors the success and tragedy of the Diaspora. Among the well-known names below, you will find many now lost to obscurity, marginalized by time, language, and geography, and far too many whose lives and work were plowed under by the engines of history.

At the same time, this project uncovered a creative and intellectual contribution broader and deeper than anticipated. For instance, the list includes fourteen Nobel Prize in Literature laureates, dozens of Pulitzer Prize recipients and five US poet laureates. You will also find the Jewish roots of such cultural icons as Don Quixote, Madame Butterfly, Bambi, Curious George, and Gidget. This work also provided a chance to rediscover the world of Yiddish letters and encounter Jewish literary communities in South Africa, Australia, and Latin America, as well as significant contributions by Jews in India, the Caribbean, and post-Holocaust France, Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Germany.


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New Format: I have started to change the format for author entries, embedding the link in the author's name.  Newer and updated entries, only, appear this way for the time being.

Authors' Names:  I have tried to select the most readily identifiable version of each name or the one that will work best in a library catalog search and file it accordingly. However, correct and consistent identification of authors by name can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Is it Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens? Sholem Aleichem or Shalom Rabinowitz?   With Jewish writers, transliterations (yes, plural, as in more than one possible version) can add to the confusion. Renderings of family names are often confusing: Steinberg or Shteynbarg, Bloom or Blume, Vaynraykh or Weinreich.

Historic names (e.g. Dunash ben Labrat)  and pen names (e.g. Sholem Aleichem) create other filing issues, with authors often listed differently than expected.  Following the practice of the Library of Congress, Sholem Aleichem is filed under "S" and Der Nister under "D". Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra is filed under "Ibn" but Dunash ben Labrat is filed under "Dunash."   Therefore that is how they appear in this list.  As often as possible, I've included alternate spellings, birth names and pen names with entries to help with identification. Fortunately, this newest version of the guide makes it easy to search across the alphabet. 

Acknowledgments:  I am grateful for the help I received in compiling this list, acknowledged in the "Sources" section, and particularly the generous permission of Zachary Baker, whose Essential Yiddish Books was a starting point in identifying so many of the Yiddish writers. Work on building this list, adding and augmenting entries, as well as adding new features and functions, will be ongoing.

Your suggestions and corrections are welcome.  Please use Comments form.

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