The most basic advice given to every would-be author is to write what you know. And Chaim Potok did just that.
His best and most popular novels — “The Chosen” and “My Name Is Asher Lev” — are about boys struggling between their ultra-Orthodox upbringing and secular destinies. In “The Chosen,” the protagonist, the son of a hasidic rebbe, wants to be a psychologist; for Asher Lev it is art that draws him from his family.
Though not hasidic, Potok was raised in an Orthodox household where reading and writing on non-Jewish subjects was discouraged. But for Potok, who was also an artist, there didn’t seem to be a choice.