Call It Sleep: A Novel by Henry RothCall It Sleep: A Novel by Henry Roth

Call It Sleep: A Novel

byHenry RothIntroduction byAlfred Kazin

Paperback | July 1, 2005

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 103 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


When Henry Roth published his debut novel Call It Sleep in 1934, it was greeted with considerable critical acclaim though, in those troubled times, lackluster sales. Only with its paperback publication thirty years later did this novel receive the recognition it deserves---and still enjoys. Having sold-to-date millions of copies worldwide, Call It Sleep is the magnificent story of David Schearl, the "dangerously imaginative" child coming of age in the slums of New York.

Henry Roth (1906-1995) was born in the Austro- Hungarian province of Galitzia. He probably landed on Ellis Island in 1909 and began his life in New York on the Lower East Side, in the slums where Call It Sleep is set. He is the author as well of Shifting Landscapes, a collection of essays, and the Mercy of a Rude Stream tetralogy.
Title:Call It Sleep: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 8.16 × 5.5 × 0.86 inPublished:July 1, 2005Publisher:PicadorLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312424124

ISBN - 13:9780312424121


Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wanted to like this one I'm not sure what to make of 450+ pages told through the eyes of a 6-8 year old child, with a child's thoughts, a child's understanding and a child's limited understanding. The story is told in 3 styles: the straightforward English style being the parts where people are speaking Yiddish, the phonetic dialect parts to supposedly show how difficult it is for immigrants to understand English and stream-of-consciousness style of David's thoughts (a child's thoughts). The phonetic sections were difficult to get through and I didn't find that the three styles melded well. It made the story uneven. David is withdrawn, nervous, gets spooked by a look. He's a mama's boy of a kid. This is his story of life in the Lower East Side of New York.
Date published: 2017-02-04

Editorial Reviews

"One of the few genuinely distinguished novels written by a twentieth-century American." -Irving Howe, The New York Times Book Review"Arguably the most distinguished work of fiction ever written about immigrant life...Surely the most lyrically authentic novel in American literature about a young boy's coming to consciousness." -Lis Harris, The New Yorker"Roth has done for the East Side Jew what James T. Farrell is doing for the Chicago Irish in the Studs Lonigan trilogy.... When his characters are speaking pure Yiddish, Roth translates it into great beauty....The final chapters in the book have been compared to the Nighttown episodes of Joyce's Ulysses; the comparison is apt." -John Chamberlain, The New York Times