Allrightniks Row: “Haunch Paunch and Jowl”

This turn-of-the-century novel portrays people born in the tenements around Hester Street who fight their way out of the slums to make it to the fashionable Allrightniks Row. Its colorful characters include the narrator of the story, a corrupt judge of the Superior Court, whose gross obesity has made him the “Haunch Paunch and Jowl” in the newspapers’ cartoons. Based on historical events, the book is a story about ambition, politics, and opportunistic affairs, as well as friendship and family traditions. Ornitz describes a world in which the values of the shtetl are gradually disintegrating. He portrays Jews from the ghettos of New York’s Lower East Side who started founding their new dynasties, some basing them on unscrupulous careers and others on social commitment.

Samuel Ornitz, author, wrote this best-selling novel before he became a screenwriter in Hollywood. He eventually was one of the founding members of the Screen Writers Guild.

Gabriel Miller, introduction, is a professor of American literature and film at Rutgers University and author of Screening the Novel: Rediscovering American Fiction in Film.