Chaim Potok 1929–
American novelist, short story writer, and historian.
Potok's reputation as an American Jewish novelist was established with his first novel, The Chosen. In this, as in his succeeding four novels, his inspiration and focal concern is traditional Judaism. That tradition becomes the source of conflict for his central characters, as they seek their identities in contemporary, secular society. Potok, an ordained rabbi, combines scholarly knowledge with his thematic concerns to present informative fiction about American Jewish life.
This scholarly aspect of Potok's writing is not always an asset, for critics point out that his prose style is sometimes stilted and that his plots are contrived. However, he has sustained enough interest in his characters and their lives to make his books popular and, in general, critical successes.
(See also CLC, Vols. 2, 7, 14 and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 17-20, rev. ed.)