A Theft

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A Theft
A Theft (Saul Bellow book - cover art).jpg
4First edition
AuthorSaul Bellow
CountryUnited States
Publication date
March 1989
Media typePrint Paperback
Pages128 pp
813/.52 19
LC ClassPS3503.E4488 T4 1989

A Theft is a 1989 novel by the American author Saul Bellow. Bellow originally wanted to publish the book as a story or serial in a magazine such as The New Yorker, but his agent had trouble selling it to any magazine. Bellow, instead, chose to publish it as a book, and it was his first book to be published in paperback form. Bellow himself said on the television show Good Morning America that the book had the quality of a hardcover book, but lacked the requisite number of pages and, hence, was published as a trade paperback.


Clara Velde is a successful fashion writer in New York City and the star of the story. The book's title refers to the disappearance of Clara's prized emerald ring. Clara associates the ring with her love for the Washington, D.C. politico Ithiel and with her own professional and personal power. The ring's apparent theft leads Clara into a series of psychological crises and forces her to confront a long-buried complex of interpersonal issues.


Publishers Weekly considered it to be "clever but tender", with Velde being "formidable" and "a vintage Bellow protagonist in skirts", criticizing the ending as "less than full-scale" but praising Bellow's ability to portray characters with "a few nimble sentences".[1] Kirkus Reviews lauded Bellow's prose, but faulted his characterization, calling Velde "more an assemblage of striking attitudes than a fully drawn, believable character", and noting that her maternal role is "particularly flimsy".[2] The Los Angeles Times described it as "a miscellany of plot-bits, a couple of human sketches, (and) an assortment of caricatures", with Velde being "notes for what might become a memorable character" which Bellow "has not bothered to develop", but conceded that Bellow "enjoyed writing it".[3]


  1. ^ A Theft (Saul Bellow, author), reviewed at Publishers Weekly; published February 27, 1989; retrieved July 19, 2018
  2. ^ A THEFT, by Saul Bellow, reviewed at Kirkus Reviews; published March 28, 1989; archived online May 20, 2010; retrieved July 19, 2018
  3. ^ Love in Gogmagogsville : A THEFT by Saul Bellow (Penguin: $6.95; 124 pp.) by Richard Eder, at the Los Angeles Times; published March 19, 1989; retrieved July 19, 2018