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The Fixer Paperback – Large Print, December 31, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"Brilliant [and] harrowing . . . Historical reality combined with fictional skill and beauty of a high order make [it] a novel of startling importance." ---Elizabeth Hardwick, "Vogue" "What makes it a great book, above and beyond its glowing goodness, has to do with something else altogether: its necessity...This novel, like all great novels reminds us that we must do something." -- Jonathan Safran Foer, author of" Everything Is Illuminated" "The Fixer deserves to rank alongside the great Jewish-American novels of Saul Bellow and Philip Roth." --"The Independent (London)" "A literary event in any season." --Eliot Fremont-Smith, "The New York Times"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Large Print; Reprint edition (December 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412812585
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412812580
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,114,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Richard R on December 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Yakov Bok, a rural Ukrainian handyman (a "fixer") in the years before World War I, yearns for something better. His luck has been down all his life, he can't make ends meet, his wife ran off, and what brings him the most injustice of all: he is a Jew. The strangling weight of anti-Semitism in Tsarist Russia clubs the reader page after page and slowly grinds Yakov down when he is jailed for a crime he did not commit. Much of "The Fixer" is jail time, seen through Yakov's disbelieving yet cynical eyes.
Malamud won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Fixer", written in 1976. It was well-deserved. Yakov's struggle is as much with himself as with the gnawing injustice of the state, with the ignorance in Kiev, and the wickedness of local officials eager to see him imprisoned, even knowing he is not guilty. Yakov searches for the god of the Jews, failing to comprehend a god who would let his people be victimized so mercilessly. That Yakov's struggle is as much moral and philosophical as legalistic is the source of much of the book's significance, as well as its occasional tragi-comedy. When Yakov's father-in-law spends a small fortune in bribes to visit him in prison, they spend their precious ten minutes together debating theology. It turns out this scene is seminal because their debate - whether god has abandoned Yakov or vice versa - is the core of the tale. Later, the politico-historical context, the cynical manipulation of anti-Semitic sentiment in Russia, is outlined by Yakov's attorney, but this is a book of morality and justice, much more than of politics.
Yakov never loses his compassion for others, keeping a good thought for his faithless wife, for fellow prisoners, and even those jailers who show him occasional compassion.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on December 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
In chains all that was left of freedom was life, just existence; but to exist without choice was the same as death. -Bernard Malamud, The Fixer
In this National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, Bernard Malamud presents a fictionalized account of a notorious anti-Semitic incident, the arrest and eventual trial, following a great outcry in the West, of Mendel Beilis in pre-Revolutionary Kiev. Beilis was accused of murdering a Christian boy, despite evidence pointing toward the boy's own mother. After being held from 1911 to 1913, he was finally brought to trial, where he was exonerated.
In this novel the protagonist is Yakov Bok, a nominally Jewish handyman ("fixer")--nominally because he has abandoned his Jewish beliefs for a Spinoza influenced kind of "free thinking"--leaves his village after being cuckolded by his wife. Eventually ending up in Kiev, he one day comes upon a man collapsed in the street and decides to help him, despite noticing that he is wearing a Black Hundreds pin (symbol of a vicious anti-Semitic organization). The man, who turns out to be a local merchant who was merely drunk, offers Yakov a job managing his brickyard, not realizing that he is Jewish. Yakov accepts, despite much trepidation, goes to work under an assumed name, Yakov Ivanovitch Dologushev, and moves into an apartment in an area forbidden to Jews.
Once on the job he runs afoul of : the merchant's daughter, whose sexual advances he deflects; local boys, who he he chases out of the factory yard; and the employees, who he warns about stealing bricks. These seemingly petty disagreements prove to have disastrous results when a local boy is found murdered, stabbed repeatedly and drained of blood.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on September 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I went to start Malamud's "The Fixer" I expected that I would find a work of great brilliance. Being that it was the first book ever to win both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, only done once since, I expected unusually inspiring prose. I was not disappointed. Malamud's depiction of a man, in prison, in terrible conditions, virtually concentration camp scenarios, of a man, accused of a crime he did not commit, due to anti-semitism in Russia during the period 1904 through 1907 or thereabouts.
Malamud not only gives us the full impact and feeling of the isolation, desolation and frustration of a prisoner in terrible conditions, waiting just for a "letter of indictment", not even knowing whether he would be accused of the terrible rumor that abounded. Malamud takes us through periods of hope for the prisoner, and then dashes those hopes. He takes us through the feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and the struggle that such a combination creates with the concept of suicide.
Written without any fanciness in terms of high language, but using only words that one could understand with a 9th grade education, Malamud constructs what is a classic novel of our just past century. It reveals itself with both the absurdity of a Kafka story and the intensity of "Blindness" by Saramago (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1998). For serious thinkers of the human mind and the places it takes one in conditions of great extremity, this book is a must read item. To get close to the real feelings of prison hopelessness combined with intense anti-semitism, read Malamud's book and then come to a new understanding of the human condition and its obscurity as an individual in a world turned against one.
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