Singer published at least 18 novels, 14 children’s books, a number of memoirs, essays and articles. He is best known as a writer of short stories, which have been published in more than a dozen collections. The first collection of Singer’s short stories in English, Gimpel the Fool, was published in 1957. The title story was translated by Saul Bellow and published in May 1953 in the Partisan Review. Selections from Singer’s “Varshavsky-stories” in the Daily Forward were later published in anthologies such as My Father’s Court (1966). Later collections include A Crown of Feathers (1973), with notable masterpieces in between, such as The Spinoza of Market Street (1961) and A Friend of Kafka (1970). His stories and novels reflect the world of the East European Jewry in which he grew up. After his many years in America, his stories also portrayed the world of the immigrants and their pursuit of an elusive American dream, which seems always beyond reach.
Prior to Singer’s winning the Nobel Prize, English translations of dozens of his stories were published in popular magazines such as Playboy and Esquire that published literary works.
Throughout the 1960s, Singer continued to write about questions of personal morality. Because of the controversial aspects of his plots, he was a target of scathing criticism from many quarters, some of it for not being “moral” enough, some for writing stories that no one wanted to hear. To his critics, he replied, “Literature must spring from the past, from the love of the uniform force that wrote it, and not from the uncertainty of the future.”
Singer was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1978.
Between 1981 and 1989, Singer contributed articles to Moment Magazine, an independent magazine which focuses on the life of the American Jewish community.