Bernard Malamud

Bernard Malamud was born in New York City to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. In his second novel, The Assistant (1957), Malamud found his characteristic themes -- man's struggle to survive against all odds, and the ethical underpinnings of recent Jewish immigrants.

Malamud's first published work was The Natural (1952), a combination of realism and fantasy set in the mythic world of professional baseball. Other novels include A New Life (1961), The Fixer (1966), Pictures of Fidelman (1969), and The Tenants (1971). He also was a prolific master of short fiction. Through his stories, in collections such as The Magic Barrel (1958), Idiots First (1963), and Rembrandt's Hat (1973), he conveyed -- more than any other American-born writer -- a sense of the Jewish present and past, the real and the surreal, fact and legend.

Malamud's monumental work -- for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award -- is The Fixer. Set in Russia around the turn of the 20th century, it is a thinly veiled glimpse at an actual case of blood libel -- the infamous 1913 trial of Mendel Beiliss, a dark, anti-Semitic blotch on modern history. As in many of his writings, Malamud underscores the suffering of his hero, Yakov Bok, and the struggle against all odds to endure.