8 Best Jewish Authors Of All Time

Are you looking for the best Jewish writers of all time? If so, take a look at a few of the top Jewish authors you need to know. 

There is a tremendous history among people of Jewish descent. Jewish people have played an integral role throughout history, and their works have touched every corner of the below. Even though there is a Russian Jewish population in New York, Jewish history includes people of English, Israeli, and even German descent.

Of course, the Holocaust, perpetrated by Nazi Germany, is an integral part of Jewish writing.

Popular Jewish Authors 

Best Jewish Authors

Numerous American Jewish writers publish short stories, works of non-fiction, and poetry. Take a look at a few of the top examples below, and consider checking out a few of their works for yourself.

1. Philip Roth

Best Jewish Authors: Philip Roth
This image was found on Wikipedia and is used as part of the public domain.

When people think about famous Jewish writers, they usually envision Philip Roth. He was a revered American novelist and short story writer, and many of his books focus on his birthplace in Newark, New Jersey. He has had a tremendous impact on multiple generations of writers, regardless of their heritage. Many of his books focused on the Jewish female experience and Jewish women.

Many of his works are considered autobiographical, as he drew from his experiences with his friends and family members to write many of his books. Even though his books come in many shapes and forms, Portnoy’s Complaint is one of his most famous books Portnoy’s Complaint. It was published in 1969, and it was known for being incredibly sexually explicit. 

Portnoy's Complaint
  • Vintage
  • Roth, Philip (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 289 Pages - 09/20/1994 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

2. Bernard Malamud

Best Jewish Authors: Bernard Malamud
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Bernard Malamud is another of the most famous Jewish writers of all time. He is frequently listed next to Philip Roth when people talk about Jewish writers. He had a tremendous impact on literature during the 20th century, and he received a wide variety of awards during his career. He earned a National Book Award for fiction and a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. 

He is known for his tremendous versatility, and one of his most famous books is titled The Natural. It is a novel that focuses on baseball, and it was turned into a movie in 1984 starring Robert Redford. Even though the film is fantastic, you should consider reading the book. 

The Natural
  • Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Malamud, Bernard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 231 Pages - 07/07/2003 (Publication Date) - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Publisher)

3. Michael Chabon

Best Jewish Authors: Michael Chabon
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Michael Chabon is one of the most popular younger Jewish writers. He has developed a strong reputation as a columnist, short-story writer, and novelist.

He was born in Washington DC, and he spent a year studying at Carnegie Mellon before he transferred to the University of Pittsburgh. He finished his formal education in 1984, and he immediately decided to become a creative professional.

He published Wonder Boys in 1995, which put him on the map. He is known for his vivid imagery, impressive plot structure, and gripping storytelling. If you want to explore some of his work for yourself, you should check out his 2000 Pultizer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  • HARPER PERENNIAL
  • Chabon, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 656 Pages - 06/30/2001 (Publication Date) - Harpercollins Pub Ltd (Publisher)

4. Nicole Krauss

Nicole Krauss is a member of the younger generation of Jewish writers, but she has already become one of the most popular authors of the modern era. Of note, she is married to another famous Jewish author, Jonathan Safran Foer. She studied at both the University of Stanford and the University of Oxford.

She draws on her own experiences and those of the people she spends time with to write her stories. Some of her most popular works include The History of Love, Forest Dark, To Be a Man, and Great House. If you are looking for an excellent place to start, consider checking out The History of Love. This is a beautiful story about a book that helps an old man reconnect with his children as they try to learn more about themselves and their relationships. 

Sale
The History of Love
  • W W Norton Company
  • Krauss, Nicole (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 05/17/2006 (Publication Date) - W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

5. Jonathan Safran Foer

Best Jewish Authors: Jonathan Safran Foer
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Jonathan Safran Foer is a popular Jewish writer who has published fiction and non-fiction. Many of his works focus on the Jewish identity, and he studied under Joyce Carol Oates during his time in school. Oates pushed him to pursue writing as a career, as she saw tremendous talent in him.

At the age of 25, he published his first book, Everything Is Illuminated, winning him a Jewish Book Award. This book was even turned into a movie. It is not his only book to be turned into a film; another is Eating Loud and Incredibly Close.

His works focus on various issues, including social problems, geopolitical issues, and even moral problems facing the current generation of the Jewish population. Not all of his works focus on Jewish identity, so there is something out there for everyone. 

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Everything Is Illuminated
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Jonathan Safran Foer (Author) - Robert Petkoff (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/13/2021 (Publication Date) - HMH Adult Audio (Publisher)

6. Saul Bellow

Best Jewish Authors: Saul Bellow
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Saul Bellow is widely considered one of the most influential Jewish writers of the twentieth century. He was born in Canada but spent most of his time in the United States. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature and the Nobel Prize for Literature during his unparalleled literary career.

He has served as an inspiration to countless writers, and his work is still revered to this day. He graduated from Northwestern University, and he published an autobiographical work. During his later years, he would conduct readings of his works of fiction, inspiring numerous others to pursue a career in literature.

Because he wrote so many books, it can be challenging to figure out where to start; however, you may want to begin by reading Herzog. This is a novel published in 1964, made up of many letters from the protagonist, Herzog. This book won the US National Book Award, and in 2005 Time Magazine dubbed it one of the 100 best novels since the magazine was started in 1923. 

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Herzog (Penguin Classics)
  • Penguin Books
  • Bellow, Saul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 02/25/2003 (Publication Date) - Penguin Classics (Publisher)

7. Franz Kafka

Best Jewish Authors: Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka was one of the most influential literary figures of the early 20th century. His work had a unique ability to fuse fantastical elements with some aspects of realism, making his works sound believable. He was born in Bohemia but spent much of his life living in Austria. Born in Prague, he experienced the horrors of World War I. He decided to dive into the fantasy world to positively impact society to show people a new side of life. 

Without a doubt, one of his most famous works is called Metamorphosis. As the name suggests, this story is about a traveling salesman who gradually turns into a bug. Even though this book was turned into a movie, you should read the book first. 

The Metamorphosis
  • Franz Kafka (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 44 Pages - 09/12/2009 (Publication Date) - Classix Press (Publisher)

8. Elie Wiesel

Best Jewish Authors: Elie Wiesel
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When people think about survivors of the Holocaust, they often think about Elie Wiesel. He was born in Romania but spent much of his time living in the United States. He has served as a professor, a political activist, and an author during his life.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts following the Holocaust, and he has worked hard to educate everyone about the horrors of what he saw. He spent time in Auschwitz and Buchenwald as a child, focusing only on surviving. 

During his life, he wrote close to 60 books. It isn’t easy to figure out where to start, but you may want to begin by reading his book Night. It was published in 1960, and it is a memoir of the time he spent with his father in the concentration camps. It is a powerful, moving story that will give you an inside look at what it was like to live through such an experience. Even though it might be impossible to eradicate all anti-semitism, people like Elie Wiesel have tried to educate people on the horrors of the Holocaust to do so. 

Night (Night)
  • Great product!
  • Elie Wiesel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 120 Pages - 01/16/2006 (Publication Date) - Hill and Wang (Publisher)

9. Cynthia Ozick

Cynthia Ozick is a famous American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. She is an intellectual professional who has worked hard to challenge the existing thought patterns surrounding Jewish culture and heritage. She dives into some of the ancient patterns surrounding Jewish culture, Judaism itself, and Yiddish in her work.

Her work is a great way to learn more about how Judaism has changed. You may want to look at The Shawl, which takes a deep dive into the Jewish religion. 

The Shawl
  • Ozick, Cynthia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 69 Pages - 08/29/1990 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

The Final Word On The Best Jewish Writers

These are just a few of the most famous writers from the Jewish community. Jewish literature has had a tremendous impact on literature as a whole, and you should consider checking out a few of these books for yourself. Many of them have landed on The New York Times bestseller list, and you can learn more about Judaism and literature. If you want to add a few more books to your reading list, consider picking up a few from this list. 

FAQs About the Best Jewish Writers

What Are Some Of The Most Common Themes That Feature In Jewish Writing?

Members of the Jewish community have been persecuted throughout history, so it is not unusual to see books that focus on this topic. In particular, a lot of 20th-century writers will focus on the Holocaust.

Who Are Some Of The Other Jewish Writers I May Want To Check Out?

It would help if you also considered reading books by Judy Blume, Nathan Englander, and Joseph Heller. 

Further Reading

If you liked this guide on the best Jewish authors, you might be interested in our round-up on the best American authors

You may also enjoy our explainer on the best Japanese authors.

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