Kreisel was born in Vienna, Austria to a Polish-born mother and a Romanian-born father. The family, which was Jewish, managed to reach Britain just before the Second World War, but, like many other German-speaking refugees, they were declared enemy aliens after the war began.
In 1940 Kreisel was relocated to Canada. He lived on a farm in New Brunswick until 1941 . It was there that he began his career as a writer, deciding to write in English and modelling himself on the bilingual author Joseph Conrad. After Canada decided to release the refugees from the camps they had been assigned to Kreisel decided to pursue his dream of writing and was educated at the University of Toronto.
Kreisel became one of the first Jewish writers to write about Jewish-Canadian issues. Later he spent time in Western Canada, and his essay "The Prairie: A State of Mind" is a frequently anthologized discussion of Western Canadian regionalism.
He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1987.
- The Rich Man (1948)
- The Betrayal (1964)
- The Almost Meeting (1981)
- Another Country: Writings by and about Henry Kreisel (1985)
- Greenstein, Michael. "Close Encounters: Henry Kreisel's Short Stories" in Essays in Canadian Literature (Summer 1983), pp. 64–69.
- Greenstein, Michael. "The Language of the Holocaust in The Rich Man" Etudes canadiennes/Canadian Studies (1978), pp. 85–96.
- Hlus, Carolyn. "Henry Kreisel" in Profiles in Canadian Literature 5. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1986.
- Lecker, Robert A. "State of Mind: Henry Kreisel's Novels" Canadian Literature (Summer 1978), pp. 82–93.
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