The Literary Mafia: Jews, Publishing, and Postwar American Literature

Yale Univ. Jul. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780300251425. $35. LIT
Canadian American scholar of modern Jewish literature and popular culture (literature, Wellesley Coll.; Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture) Lambert begins this book by demolishing the contention described in most detail in a 1974 tome by Richard Kostelanetz, but maintained by a wide variety of American authors in the 1960s and beyond including Truman Capote, Katherine Anne Porter and Mario Puzo: that the significant number of highly placed Jewish publishers, editors, book reviewers, and academics constituted a literary network collaborating and conspiring to favor certain Jewish writers to the detriment of U.S. literary culture. Lambert goes on to examine the very real advantages of access and promotion that some Jewish writers gained from their connections to Jewish publishers, editors and academics. He follows with an exploration of inheritance of varieties of capital in Jewish culture and concludes with the suggestion that American literature would benefit from the inclusion of significant numbers of more racially diverse editors and publishing decision makers.
VERDICT Essential for readers interested in the history of 20th-century U.S. literature.
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