Born in Odessa to a Russian-Jewish family, Judah Waten arrived in Western Australia in 1914. He attended Christian Brothers' College, Perth and, moving to Melbourne in 1926, University High School, Melbourne. He joined the Communist Party of Australia while still at school. Between 1931 and 1933, he visited Europe, became engaged in left-wing political activities in England, and spent three months in Wormwood Scrubs Prison.
He wrote novels, short stories and a history of the Great Depression in Australia. His best-known work is a collection of autobiographical short stories, Alien Son, first published in 1952. He travelled to the Soviet Union several times, once with Manning Clark. He was involved in the Realist Writers Group, International PEN, the Fellowship of Australian Writers and served on the Literature Board of the Australia Council.
In 1985 he was posthumously awarded the Patrick White Award.
- Alien Son (1952)
- The Unbending (1954)
- Shares in Murder (1957)
- Time of Conflict (1961)
- Distant Land (1964)
- Season of Youth (1966)
- So Far No Further (1971)
- Scenes of Revolutionary Life
- The Depression Years, 1929-1939 (1971)
- From Odessa to Odessa: The journey of an Australian writer (1969)
- My two literary careers, essay
- Why I came home - naked - fifty years ago
- "Waten, Judah / Papers (National Library of Aus.) - Biographical Note". National Library of Australia. n.d. Archived from the original on 13 February 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2007.
- Carter, David. "Judah Waten". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- It's an Honour: AM