The Literary Mafia by Josh Lambert
Jews, Publishing, and Postwar American Literature
In the 1960s and 1970s, complaints about a “Jewish literary mafia” were everywhere. Although a conspiracy of Jews colluding to control publishing in the United States never actually existed, such accusations reflected a genuine transformation from an industry notorious for excluding Jews to one in which they arguably had become the most influential figures.
Josh Lambert examines the dynamics between Jewish editors and Jewish writers; how Jewish women exposed the misogyny they faced from publishers; and how children of literary parents have struggled with and benefited from their inheritances. Drawing on interviews and tens of thousands of pages of letters and manuscripts, The Literary Mafia offers striking new discoveries about celebrated figures such as Lionel Trilling and Gordon Lish, and neglected fiction by writers including Ivan Gold, Ann Birstein, and Trudy Gertler.
In the end, we learn how the success of one minority group has lessons for all who would like to see American literature become more equitable.
Year first published: 2022