Malamud was the elder of two sons of Russian immigrants, proprietors of a grocery store in Brooklyn. His mother died when he was 15, his father remarried, and their family life disintegrated. He attended New York City schools, with a B.A. from City College in 1936. After graduation, Malamud worked briefly for the census bureau before he earned an M.A. in English literature at Columbia, with a thesis on the poetry of Thomas Hardy. Shortly thereafter, he began publishing short stories and teaching in various colleges, finally settling at Bennington in 1960, where he taught for the rest of his life. He was a recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, as well as countless other honors. Malamud died at his desk, working on his last novel, "The People".
"[Malamud has allowed] an utterly credible man to be victimized by all the painful and humiliating abuses the most abused anti-hero might be subjected to and he has brought him out of the fire not dehumanized by more fully and authentically a human being. With complete and passionate integrity he is denying one of the most paralyzing fears of our times: that individual goodness cannot survive the evils of history....It is as convincing and affecting an act of grace as the American novel has seen in a long time. In discussing 'The Fixer' it is easy to turn the book into a moralistic abstract. That would be a misrepresentation. These pages are as thick and pungent as a piece of black bread, with [a] special Chekhovian texture....It cannot help but make an impact on the American literature scene."
"[T]he main success of the novel lies in the creation of Bok, free of any false pathos or any false grandeur...a kind of Jewish everyman....In 'The Fixer', Malamud has demonstratively staked a claim in the territory of the great 'classical' novelists."
From the Publisher
From the small crossed window of his room above the stable in the brickyard, Yakov Bok saw people in their long overcoats running somewhere early that morning, everybody in the same direction. Vey iz mir, he thought uneasily, something bad has happened.
THE FIXER is based on the case of a Jewish worker in Russia who is accused of murder, and his subsequent treatment at the hands of the law and the public.
Set in carist Russia, The Fixer is the story of the strains and anxieties that beset a man who finds himself a stranger in his community and a victim of irrational prejudice as a wave of anti-Semitic hysteria engulfs a town after the murder of a boy. Yakov Bok, an ordinary handyman, is charged with the "ritual murder" of the boy simply because of his Jewish heritage. The story of Bok's struggle in an atmosphere of hate is universally applicable to that of any victim of a miscarriage of justice and mob prejudice.