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Weidman, Jerome

WEIDMAN, JEROME

WEIDMAN, JEROME (1913–1998), U.S. novelist. Born in New York City, Weidman obtained first-hand knowledge of the Jewish garment industry while working his way through college. In his first novel, I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1937), later made into a musical, he described the rise of an unscrupulous go-getter in the dress trade. His second novel, What's in It for Me? (1938), which had a similar setting, aroused a storm of protest because of its unpleasant portrayals of Jewish characters. During World War ii, Weidman worked for the Office of War Information and there found material for his satire on war propaganda, Too Early to Tell (1946). In his novel, The Enemy Camp (1958), Weidman analyzes relations between Jews and non-Jews on the basis of his own experiences as a young man. The short stories of My Father Sits in the Dark (1961) contain nostalgic glimpses of East Side Jews. Weidman's style is restless, naturalistic, and colored with slang and satiric overtones. In his portrayal of Jewish types, he takes his place beside other Jewish writers of his age group such as Budd *Schulberg, Norman Katkov, and Albert *Halper, but was less unkind than some of his contemporaries. Hedonistic in his attitude, Weidman remained generally aloof from the strivings of the Jews of his generation. Weidman also wrote the book for a musical, Fiorello (1959), which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Later works included Back Talk, essays (1963), a short story collection entitled The Death of Dickie Draper and Nine Other Stories (1965), Fourth Street East: A Novel of How It Was (1970), and the autobiography Praying for Rain.

bibliography:

R. Newquist, Counterpoint (1964), 626–34; J. Barkham, in Saturday Review (July 28, 1962), 38–39: S.J. Kunitz (ed.), Twentieth Century Authors, first suppl. (1955), s.v.; L. Nichols, in: New York Times Book Review (June 15, 1958), 8.

[Sol Liptzin]

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