When Henry Roth published Call It Sleep, his first novel, in 1934, it was greeted with considerable critical acclaim. But in that dark Depression year, books were hard to sell, and the novel quickly dropped out of sight, as did its twenty-eight-year-old author. Only with its paperback publication in 1964 did this novel receive the recognition it deserves—and still enjoys.
Call It Sleep, the story of David Schearl, the “dangerously imaginative” child coming of age in the slums of New York, is a novel of Jewish life full of the pain and honesty of family relationships. It holds the distinction of being the first paperback ever to receive a front-page review in The New York Times Book Review, and it proceeded to sell millions of copies both in the United States and around the world. This edition includes an Introduction by Alfred Kazin and an Afterword by Hana Wirth-Nesher.