Top 5 Inspiring Jewish Authors That You Will Love

We’ve curated a list of five remarkable Jewish authors whose work honors their rich heritage. Read on to learn more about them and their captivating stories!

Author's Corner Diverse Voices Historical Fiction
Three Jewish authors on a blue background with a rabbi shawl on the side

Throughout history, Jewish authors have been known for capturing their culture, personal struggles, and societal struggles in literature. Whether addressing migration or the haunting past, these authors utilized a theme of identity, belonging, and human experience in their works, even if it’s fiction. Let’s look at some of the most inspiring Jewish authors, some known and others underappreciated; we should take the time to appreciate their literary works!

Anne Frank, Author Of The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank was born in 1929 to a German-Jewish family during the Nazi regime. In 1942, Anne went into hiding with four other people in her father’s attic, cramped and crowded, she kept quiet. Just before her thirteenth birthday, Anne was gifted a diary, which was later filled with her feelings, thoughts, and short stories. She was even inspired to rewrite one of her short stories titled Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex) when the Minister of Education made an appeal to hold to war diaries and documents on the radio. Despite reports detailing Anne’s desire to become a journalist, it was attainable after her death.

Anne Frank on the left and the image of the cover of her book "The Diary of a Young Girl"

The Diary of a Young Girl describes her life hiding during the regime over the two years of hiding, filling a number of notebooks in the process. Unfortunately, after she was caught, Otto, her father, was the only surviving member of her family. He decided to publish her diaries, preserving of her personal thoughts of hiding. 

Arthur Miller, Author of Death of a Salesman

As an American playwright and essayist, Arthur Miller was known for his books about American education. Some of his books, like Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, were considered among the best American plays of the 20th century. 

While working through high school and college, Miller knew the difficulties it could be to make a living during tough times, specifically when dealing with the Depression and the after-effects of World War II. Miller was influenced to write plays about the vulnerable, everyday people working and struggling to get ahead. It wasn’t long to notice that writing was to earn a living, for even the play The Crucible was written as an act of desperation.

Arthur Miller on the left and the image of the cover of his book "Death of a Salesman"

Arthur Miller was usually in the public eye: he received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Jerusalem Prize, and even married Marilyn Monroe! 

Miller died at the age of 89 in 2005. He is considered one of the 20th century’s greatest dramatists, an individual who combined social awareness with a searching concern for his characters’ inner lives.

Neil Gaiman, Author Of Coraline

Neil Gaiman came from a family of Polish-Jewish and other Eastern European Jewish origins. Even though Gaiman establishes that there was little particularly Jewish about his life in the United States, his work was still to be overlooked.

How did he start writing? Gaiman was working as a journalist, writing book and film reviews for various publications. Yet, one day, while waiting for the strain, he noticed a newspaper explaining a “revolutionary approach” to comics. This heavily influenced him, leading to the start of his comic book series, The Sandman, in 1989.

Neil Gaiman on the left and the image of the cover of his book "Coraline"

Whether it was from his work in the graphic novel series The Sandman to his writing screenplays for Beowolf and Coraline, he is described as a writer of extraordinary imagination. He was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. 

Gaiman is an author with a career of strange twists of fantasy and science-fiction work. 

Elie Wiesel, Author Of Night

Elie Weisel, born in 1928, was a Romanian-born Jewish writer and professor who survived the Holocaust along with two of his three sisters. His work focused on the cold yet passionate testament of the destruction of European Jewry during World War II; he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986. 

His first book, Night, detailed his suffering as a teenager in the concentration camp and became a classic of Holocaust literature. After World War II, Wiesel became a journalist, author, professor, and human rights activist. With his Nobel Prize award, he recommended the creation of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and was the first chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

Elie Wiesel on the left and the cover of his book "Night"

He once said in an interview:

“I believed that, having survived by chance, I was duty-bound to give meaning to my survival, to justify each moment of my life. I knew the story had to be told. Not to transmit an experience is to betray it. This is what Jewish tradition teaches us.”

Like Anne Frank, his works and dedication led to the livelihood of a history of Jews that would never be unforgotten.

Shel Silverstein, Author Of A Light in the Attic

Shel Silverstein was an American writer and poet who created literature for children. Of many things, a cartoonist, composer, lyricist, and folksinger, he was a unique character striving to make a bold brand of humor, mixing the serious and the silly. 

Shel Silverstein on the left and the cover of his book "A Light in the Attic"

Born in 1930, he grew up in Chicago and created his first cartoons for adult readers in 1950, he learned how to play guitar and write songs, and even writing songs for others in 1998, such as Old Dogs. When discussing his writing to the Publishers Weekly in 1975, he stated,

“When I was a kid . . . I would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls. But I couldn’t play ball, I couldn’t dance . . . so I started to draw and write.”

Yes, he was known for his children’s stories and poetry, yet his work continued to resonate with readers well into adulthood. One of his most popular poems, Masks, focuses on the facade of the “normal” and reveals the weirdness that makes us unique. 

A risky author he was, he will always be remembered as a reminder to be ourselves.

No matter what, every author deserves recognition. We should all take the time to read the unique literature every other made for us to read. Even if you don’t like educational resources or returning to Arthur Miller, take the time out of your day to appreciate one of these authors by reading at least something from them. Be inspired and prosper! 

If you want to learn more about some eye-opening books regarding pioneering Jewish icons, click here.

For more Jewish-oriented literature, check out Shalom Stories: Diverse Jewish Voices in Literature on Bookshop.