Written in 1945, Focus was Arthur Miller's first novel and one of the first books to directly confront American anti-Semitism. It remains as chilling and incisive today as it was at the time of its controversial debut. As World War II draws to a close, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Brooklyn, New York. Here, Newman, an American of English descent, floats through a world of multiethnic neighborhoods indifferent to the racism around him. That is, until he begins to wear glasses that render him "Jewish" in the eyes of others, making him the target of anti-Semitic prosecution. As he and his wife find friendship and support from a Jewish immigrant, Newman slowly begins to understand the racial hatreds that surround him.
About the Author
Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972) and The American Clock. He has also written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969), Chinese Encounters (1979), and In the Country (1977), three books of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. More recent works include a memoir, Timebends (1987), and the plays The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1993), Broken Glass (1993), which won the Olivier Award for Best Play of the London Season, and Mr. Peter's Connections (1998). His latest book is On Politics and the Art of Acting. Miller was granted with the 2001 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Even though Arthur Miller wrote this book in 1945, I think it holds a universal theme that is as relevant and true today as it was then. That both amazes and saddens me. Fantastic book that everyone should read, and then take words and reflect them back on themselves to see how they would act in the situation that Mr. Newman finds himself in.
Arthur Miller's only novel is the story of a New Yorker in the final days of World War II who gets glasses that render him Jewish to a hysterically anti-Semetic neighborhood. It's too bad Miller didn't write more novels, because this is a quick, enjoyable read, prose written with a near Nabokovian excitement and impossible to contain outrage. More than anything, the book rings true, displaying its protagonist, Mr. Newman, and those surrounding him, as fully realized, flawed human beings. An intelligent and controversial work.