Jews Without Money

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Jews Without Money is a 1930 American novel by the communist writer and critic Mike Gold. Published by Horace Liveright shortly after the onset of the Great Depression,[1] the novel is a fictionalized autobiography about growing up in the impoverished world of the Lower East Side, beginning in the 1890s.[2] Jews Without Money was an immediate success and went through many print-runs in its first years and was translated into over 14 languages. It became a prototype for the American proletarian novel.

Jews without Money is set in a slum populated mainly by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The father of the hero is a painter who suffers from lead poisoning. When he falls from a scaffold, he is disabled and can no longer work. His business fails and the family is pushed into poverty. The wife has to seek work in a restaurant. Although he is a bright boy, young Michael decides he must leave school. On the final page of the book, the poor Jewish boy prays for the arrival of a Marxist worker's revolution that will emancipate the working class.

In his Author's Note to the novel, Gold wrote, "I have told in my book a tale of Jewish poverty in one ghetto, that of New York. The same story can be of a hundred other ghettoes scattered over all the world. For centuries the Jew has lived in this universal ghetto."


  1. ^ Jews Without Money, New York: Horace Liveright, 1930. Reprinted by Carol & Graf, 2004.
  2. ^ Barry Gross, "Michael Gold (1893–1967)", The Heath Anthology of American Literature, ed. Paul Lauter, 5th edition.