Irwin Shaw’s “Select Clientele”

Resource Kit by
Sammy Meckler

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Irwin Shaw (1918 – 1984) was a Jewish American novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and short story writer. Shaw grew up in New York City, the child of Jewish immigrants from Russia. Upon entering college, he changed his last name from Shamforoff to Shaw. Shaw served in the military during World War II, was put on the Hollywood blacklist in the McCarthy era, and wrote prolifically until his death in 1984.
Shaw’s story “Select Clientele” was published by The New Yorker on August 17, 1940. It explores implicit and explicit American anti-Semitism, different responses to anti-Semitism and bigotry, and different manifestations of anti-Semitism. This text will be useful in Jewish and American literature classes, as well as classes concerning the United States’s response to the Holocaust, American foreign and domestic policy before and during World War II, the role of Jews as an “other” throughout history, and bigotry or prejudice of any kind.

Cover image: Advertisement for The Sagamore, from The New Yorker, June 22 1940, 63,