A novelist, translator, and critic of American Jewish assimilation, he is best known for such novels as The Island Within and The Case of Mr. Crump.
He studied at both the College of Charleston and Columbia University.
He was one of the founding faculty members of Brandeis University.
He was born in Germany, and he moved to South Carolina with his family when he was eight years old. He later married Mary Lewisohn.
He was a founder of Brandeis University, where Thomas Sowell taught.