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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > EASTSIDER EDWIN NEWMAN
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Journalist and first-time novelist


"When you achieve a certain prominence on television," says NBC's
Edwin Newman, "publishers come to you and ask you to write books.
Then you go round in circles for a while, and finally say, 'Gee, I'd like
to write a book, but I don't have the time.'"

Six years ago, the award-winning broadcast journalist decided to find out if he was bluffing himself. He spent seven months of his spare time writing a book called Strictly Speaking: Will America be the Death of English? Published in 1974 when Newman was 55 years old, it became the nation's number one best-seller for non-fiction. His follow-up book, A Civil Tongue (1976), was another best-seller.

Now Edwin newman has written his first novel, Sunday Punch (Houghton Mifflin, $9.95). Published in June, it has already gone through two printings in hardcover, totaling 60,000 copies. The Atlantic has described the book as "a Wodehousian excursion that is lighter than air and twice as much fun as laughing gas."

In a leisurely interview at his Rockefeller Plaza office, the author comes across very much as he does on television. His leathery features expand easily into a smile as he delivers, in his slow, concise, foghorn voice, comments that are as thought-provoking as they are witty.

Sunday Punch, he says, "is the story of an extremely thin, tall, British prizefighter named Aubrey Philpott-Grimes who comes to the U.S. to fight because he can make more money here than in Britain. The more money he makes, the higher taxes he can pay, and Aubrey is a great believer in paying taxes. He is tremendously interested in economics, so that if he is brought to the microphone after a fight, he'll probably start talking about structural unemployment and floating exchange rates, rather than talking about fighting. … The book allows me to comment on the United States from the view of an outsider."

His fascination with the cultural and linguistic differences of the U.S. and England dates back to the late 1940s, when Newman left his job with the Washington-based International News Service and moved to London. There, he found work as a "stringer" for the NBC network, and when he was invited to join the full-time staff in 1952, he remained at the British capital for five more years. In 1961, after serving as NBC bureau chief in both Paris and Rome, he returned to his native Manhattan and settled into his present Eastside apartment with his English wife, Rigel. The Newmans' daughter Nancy was educated entirely in England.

A harsh critic of the state of the language in America today, Newma............
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