The Fixer

The Fixer

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Overview

The Fixer is the winner of the 1967 National Book Award for Fiction and the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Fixer (1966) is Bernard Malamud's best-known and most acclaimed novel -- one that makes manifest his roots in Russian fiction, especially that of Isaac Babel.

Set in Kiev in 1911 during a period of heightened anti-Semitism, the novel tells the story of Yakov Bok, a Jewish handyman blamed for the brutal murder of a young Russian boy. Bok leaves his village to try his luck in Kiev, and after denying his Jewish identity, finds himself working for a member of the anti-Semitic Black Hundreds Society. When the boy is found nearly drained of blood in a cave, the Black Hundreds accuse the Jews of ritual murder. Arrested and imprisoned, Bok refuses to confess to a crime that he did not commit.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374529383
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 05/05/2004
Series: FSG Classics
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 127,052
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

Bernard Malamud (1914 - 1986) wrote eight novels; he won the Pulizer Prize and the National Book Award for The Fixer, and the National Book Award for The Magic Barrel, a book of stories. Born in Brooklyn, he taught for many years at Bennington College in Vermont.

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1914

Date of Death:

March 18, 1986

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

B.A., City College of New York, 1936; M.A., Columbia University, 1942

Read an Excerpt

The Fixer

I

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 Russians, coming from streets around the cemetery, were hurrying, singly or in groups, in the spring snow in the direction of the caves in the ravine, some running in the middle of the slushy cobblestone streets. Yakov hastily hid the small tin can in which he saved silver rubles, then rushed down to the yard to find out what the excitement was about. He asked Proshko, the foreman, loitering near the smoky brickkilns, but Proshko spat and said nothing.Outside the yard a black-shawled, bony-faced peasant woman, thickly dressed, told him the dead body of a child had been found nearby. "Where?" Yakov asked. "How old a child?" but she said she didn't know and hurried away. The next day the Kievlyanin reported that in a damp cave in a ravine not more than a verst and a half from the brickworks, the body of a murdered Russian boy, Zhenia Golov, twelve years old, had been found by two older boys, both fifteen, Kazimir Selivanov and Ivan Shestinsky. Zhenia, dead more than a week, was covered with stab wounds, his body bled white. After the funeral in the cemetery close by the brick factory, Richter, one of the drivers, brought in a handful of leaflets accusing the Jews of the murder. They had been printed, Yakov saw when he examined one, by the Black Hundreds organizations. Their emblem, the Imperial double-headed eagle, was imprinted on the cover, and under it: SAVE RUSSIA FROM THE JEWS. In his room that night, Yakov, in fascination, read that the boy had been bled to death for religious purposes so that the Jews could collect his blood and deliver it to the synagogue for the making of Passover matzos. Though this was ridiculous he was frightened. He got up, sat down, and got up again. He went to the window, then returned hastily and continued to read the newspaper. He was worried because the brick factory where he worked was in the Lukianovsky District, one in which Jews were forbidden to live. He had been living there for months under an assumed name and without a residence certificate. And he was frightened of the pogrom threatened in the newspaper. His own father had been killed in an incident not more than a year after Yakov's birth—something less than a pogrom, and less than useless: two drunken soldiers, shot the first three Jews in their path, his father had been the second. But the son had lived through a pogrom when he was a schoolboy, a three-day Cossackraid. On the third morning when the houses were still smoldering and he was led, with a half dozen other children, out of a cellar where they had been hiding he saw a black-bearded Jew with a white sausage stuffed into his mouth, lying in the road on a pile of bloody feathers, a peasant's pig devouring his arm.

Copyright © 1966 by Bernard Malamud, renewed 1994 by Ann D. Malamud Introduction copyright © 2004 by Jonathan Safran Foer All rights reserved

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The Fixer 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The characters are all well-written, but Yakov is a masterpiece character, the kind you cry for at the end of the story. The settings are very important in conveying the feeling of oppression. The dialogue indicates the world-weary attitude of the people of Kiev. If you like historical novels, you will love THE FIXER. It is in fact a classic.' Keri Watson, a free-lance writer, wrote the preceding words in her review of THE FIXER for Curled Up with a Book, and she understands just as I do how expert Malamud is writing descriptive passages. THE FIXER by Bernard Malamud is a gripping and provacative novel with an eztremely interesting setting and characters, a well developed plot, and an authenic portrayal of Tsarist Russia at the genesis of the 20th century. The main character, a Jew fleeing his home town in search of work, unexpectedly ends up begging for the bare necessities of life in a desolate, damp, dank jail cell after being accused of a murder he didn't commit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The characters are all well-written, but Yakov is a masterpiece character, the kidn you cry for at the end of the story. The settings are very important in conveying the feeling of oppression. The dialogue indicates the world-weary attitude of the people of Kiev. If you like historical novels, you will love THE FIXER. It is in fact a classic.'-Keri Watson. THE FIXER by Bernard Malamud is a gripping and provacative novel with an eztremely interesting setting and characters, a well developed plot and authenic portrayal of Tsarist Russia at the genesis of the 20th century. The main character, a Jew fleeing his home town in search of work, unexpectedly ends up begging for the bare necessities of life in a desolate, damp, dank jail cell after being accused of a murder he didn't commit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a very good book about when czars were rulers of Russia. They way they treated Yakov Bok was terrible. But eventually he survived the mos horrible torment when he was in prison. I reccomend that anyone to read this book. You can get a lot of values about how crime doesn't payand how the Russian treated the Jews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am both a Russian and a Jew. My teacher assigned a book report and one of the books in the selection was the fixer, so i ran for that book first. This book is very intensifying, astonishing, astounding, and comiserating all at once. One of Bernard Malamud's best. Every chapter advented a new scenario about the main character's future, and many chapters dwelled on his past.The more i read the more i grew hungry to find out what would be the fate of the poor Jew.It is a very strong and powerful book.This book has given me a good look on how the Jews were treated during the last Tsar of Russia.This book has taught me a lot and i would recommend it to anyone, even if they are not Russian or a Jew.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read a few by Malamud, and this is one of the more cynical. The Fixer leaves his small town in Czarist Russia hoping for a better life in the big city. He doesn't find it. This is a story about what's wrong with people- bigotry, authoritarianism, ingratitude, etc. If you're one of those who likes to read happy, life-is-great books then steer clear of this novel. But if you can appreciate good writing and don't mind an author with a critical mind then The Fixer is quite solid.
BryeWho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At times painfully funny if viewed absurdly, unfortunately reality seeps in and all becomes cruelly plausible as you realize too many people still cling to superstitions and ignorance where "different" people and races are concerned. Read at your own risk.
mels_71 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Malamud won both the National Book Award and the Pullitzer prize for this novel. Set in Kiev in 1911 during a period of heightened anti-Semitism, the novel tells the story of Yakov Bok, a Jewish handyman blamed for the brutal murder of a young Russian boy.If you're looking for an uplifting read don't go here, but if you're looking for something to keep you thinking after you've finished, it's well worth it.
mzonderm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a difficult book to read, and, I can only imagine, to write. We start with the injustice of poverty and lack of opportunity in the shtetl and move almost directly into a variety of unjust accusations leveled against Yakov Bok, who has become a scapegoat for all the imagined evil deeds of all the Jews in Russia.Bok leaves the shtetl with hopes of a better life in Kiev. At first, things look up for him. Serendipity finds him a good job, and he is able to afford some books, and even put away some money. The catch is that he has to live in a district from which Jews are forbidden from living. All goes well, although Bok is not a popular figure, until a young boy is found murdered in a cave nearby.The police show up at his door, arrest him, and summarily throw him in prison. Things go from bad to worse as he is forced to submit to increasingly cruel and dehumanizing treatment, not least of which is having to repeatedly listen to the many crimes he is supposed to have committed. But he steadfastly declares his innocence, and it is this that is supposed to make him one literature's greatest heroes. I'm not so sure about this, but certainly he is a strong character.His strength almost makes this book harder to read, though. I found myself almost wishing he would confess, even though I knew he was innocent, just so the horribleness would end. But he and I both knew that confessing to a crime that he didn't commit wouldn't help at all, either his own dignity, or the plight of the Jews in Russia. So we endured together until the trial, to which Bok is on his way at the end of the book. At first I was disappointed that we don't fight out what happens at the trial, but then I realized that the result of the trial isn't the point of the book. It's the persecution and the strength that it reveals that really matter.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yakov "Ivanovitch" Bok is a poor Jewish handyman in Russia, a fixer. When his wife of five years couldn't produce a child he stopped having sex with her. This prompted her to run off with another man. Left with his father-in-law and no prospects for work, Yakov decides to leave his little shetl for the bigger city of Kiev. He knows that leaving the safety of the Jewish village is a dangerous risk. Kiev is full of anti-semites hungry for the blood of his people. But, he is 30 years old and is losing faith, just short of becoming desperate. A short time after arriving in Kiev he comes across a drunk man lying face down in the snow. His manner of dress tells Yakov the man is not only wealthy, but an anti-semite. Despite this Yakov helps him out of the snow. Nikolai Maximovitch is indeed wealthy and, feeling very much indebted to Yakov, gives him work. He further rewards Yakov with a job as overseer at his brick company and gives Yakov permission to see his only daughter, a crippled by the name of Zina. Despite Yakov's fear of being found a Jew and against his better judgement he reluctantly accepts the job but has nothing to do with Zina. A series of misfortunes lands Yakov in jail where he is accused of being Jewish, attacking Zina, and worse, committing murder. Based on a true story this is a very, very difficult story to read. Yakov's plight is horrible, his situation, dire and it doesn't improve.
claraoscura on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book. It contains all the necessary ingredients: interesting plot, 3-D characters and an political and social background.I particularly like the end. At first, I thought I would be disappointed because I realized there were no pages left for the trial, but then I liked how it is resolved. The description of the change in Yakov. The fact that he has become a political man and the implication that no man (specially a Jew) can be apolitical.
dkeish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Author Malamud has created a character, Yakov Bok, who embodies the definition of endurance. Living the in the early part of the twentieth century under Czarist rule, Yakov is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Because Yakov is a Jew, his plight is not just about the crime but about the state of persecution which existed in the Russian state. Malamud writes convincingly of what life must have been like in a Russian prison, living for years at a time in solitary confinement, not even being tried for the crime until the state can manufacture enough evidence to convict an innocent man. Bok is a three dimension character, full of faults yet also able to stand up for a principle. In some ways, the prose is painful as Malamud does a masterful job of describing the suffering of not only Bok, but of those others who try to help him. My only complaint (and the reason it did not get 5 stars) was the ending which was so abrupt that I actually checked to make sure that the copy I had did not have any ripped out pages. I didn't need a complete wrap up but felt that at least some hint of the future for Bok was needed. I am sure that Malamud felt that his ending allowed the reader to write their own, but I would have liked at least a better conclusion. Overall, however, I would still rank this book as a must read. I have studied a lot of Russian history but this viewpoint is usually from those of wealth and power. Reading about the trials if the everyday Russian Jew was fascinating.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I was given this book as a school assignment and I thought it would be another boring book I had to read. But instead, it was the most amazing book I ever read. I couldn't put it down, I was at the edge of my seat and every time I turned the page to the next one, I was more taken into the book because of all the suspicion it held me in. YOU to can enjoy this book if you read it today!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Fixer was a penetrating novel, which, I have to admit, I just chose at the last minute one day at the library. The book kept me on edge and I was finished reading it before the evening was up. I have since read and thoroughly enjoyed the book many times after that, and recommend it to anyone who is ready for serious soul-searching.