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The Fixer Paperback – Large Print, December 31, 2009
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"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"
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I won't say this is the best written book I've ever read, but it's good. I won't say it has the most gripping narrative and characters, but they are enough to keep you turning the... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Peter
loved the book, read it for second time highly recommend it.Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
The torture imposed on the main character is horrific It is difficult to read and accept the terrible hatred of the Jews in Tsarist Russia. Read morePublished 3 months ago by RAL
It is often difficult to read a book about bigotry and hatred. But at this particular moment in time I feel it's particularly important to do so. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Claudia Balderston
Enjoyed the book a lot and had trouble putting it down. But the ending left me feeling like I had wasted my time.Published 5 months ago by Norma Boyd
I first read The Fixer nearly fifty years ago, when I found it in a small library on the Army post where I was stationed. It has been, to me, one of the most important books. Read morePublished 6 months ago by A reader
Thought provoking and quite readable. It did seem to bog down a little, but that might be because I am so familiar with the time and place of the story.Published 7 months ago by M Blatt
Am excellent adaptation of the Beilis story. A bit dated, but Bernard Malamud captures then horrors of Tsarist Russia wellPublished 7 months ago by E.P.