The Assistant A Novel

Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Jonathan Rosen

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

264 Pages



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Bernard Malamud's second novel, originally published in 1957, is the story of Morris Bober, a grocer in postwar Brooklyn, who "wants better" for himself and his family. First two robbers appear and hold him up; then things improve when broken-nosed Frank Alpine becomes his assistant. But there are complications: Frank, whose reaction to Jews is ambivalent, falls in love with Helen Bober; at the same time, he begins to steal from the store.

Like Malamud's best short stories, this novel unerringly evokes an immigrant world of cramped circumstances and great expectations. In it Malamud defined the immigrant experience in a way that has proven vital for several generations of readers.


Praise for The Assistant

"Perfect . . . A lyric marvel."—The Nation

"Malamud's best novel . . . The Assistant is as tightly written as a prose poem."—Morris Dickstein, author of Leopards in the Temple: The Transformation of American Fiction, 1945-1970

"Rightness . . . permeates this book . . . Malamud's people are memorable and real as rock."—William Goyen, The New York Times

"There is a binding theme throughout the book, a search for fundamental truths through the study of ordinary people, their mundane pleasures and pains . . . Malamud's visions, style and world are distinctively original."—San Francisco Chronicle

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

The Assistant
The early November street was dark though night had ended, but the wind, to the grocer's surprise, already clawed. It flung his apron into his face as he bent for the two milk cases at the curb. Morris Bober dragged the heavy boxes to the door, panting. A large brown bag of hard rolls stood in the doorway along with the sour-faced, gray-haired Poilisheh huddled there, who wanted one."What's the matter so late?""Ten after six," said the grocer."Is cold," she complained.Turning the key in the lock he let her in. Usually he lugged in the milk and lit the gas radiators, but the Polish
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  • Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Jonathan Rosen

  • Bernard Malamud (1914-1986) published eight novels, including The Fixer, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. The Magic Barrel, a collection of short stories, also won the National Book Award. Born in Brooklyn, Malamud was a beloved teacher for many years at Bennington College in Vermont.
  • Bernard Malamud Copyright Seymour Linden