The author of the second best-selling novel of 1965 — it spent more than a year on the New York Times best-seller list — has died in New York City, reports The New York Times.
Says the Times, “Bel Kaufman, a former New York City schoolteacher whose classic first novel, ‘Up the Down Staircase’ — shot through with despair and hopefulness, violence and levity, all manner of bureaucratic inanity and a blizzard of official memorandums so mind-bendingly illogical as to seem almost Kafkaesque — was hailed as a stunningly accurate portrait of life in a gritty urban school when it was published in 1965, died [today, Friday, July 25th, 2014] at her home in Manhattan. She was 103. Her daughter, Thea Goldstine, confirmed the death.”
According to both The New York Times Best-Seller List and Publisher’s Weekly, “Up the Down Staircase” was the second best-selling book of 1965, only surpassed by “The Source” by James A. Michener. Unlike Michener, who was already a very well known writer at the time, Kaufman was not known by the general public until the publication of her novel.
The Times adds that “Up the Down Staircase” “sold more than six million copies and has been translated into at least 16 languages.”
In 1967, a movie version was released, using the same title as the novel. It starred Sandy Dennis. Dennis had won an Academy Award the year before for supporting actress in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”
The Times notes that “Ms. Kaufman wrote one other novel, ‘Love, Etc.,’ about a middle-aged woman coping with divorce. It appeared in 1979 to mixed reviews.”
Interestingly, the obituary says that Kaufman’s grandfather on her mother’s side was “the great Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem.” Among many other works, Aleichem wrote the stories that were the basis of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”
To read a lot more details of Kaufman’s life, please click on the link above, which will take you to the original Times obituary, which was written by Margalit Fox.