Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award
The Fixer (1966) is Bernard Malamud's best-known and most acclaimed novel, and one that makes manifest his roots in Russian fiction, especially that of Isaac Babel.
Set in Tsarist Russia during a period of virulent anti-Semitism, the novel tells the story of Yakov Bok, a Jewish handyman blamed for the brutal murder of a young Russian boy. At the outset, Bok leaves his village to try his luck in Kiev, and after denying his Jewish identity, he finds himself working for a member of the anti-Semitic Black Hundreds Society. When the boy is found dead in a cave, drained of nearly all his blood, the Jews are accused of ritual murder. Arrested and imprisoned, Bok refuses to confess to a crime that he did not commit. Malamud said of the book: "Whatever else it had to be about, it had to be about how the idea of freedom grows in the mind of a man subjected to a grave injustice." The Fixer dramatizes a particular kind of injustice, and the result is a masterpiece of twentieth-century fiction.
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IFrom 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