The Tenants A Novel

Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Aleksandar Hemon

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

248 Pages



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In The Tenants (1971), Bernard Malamud brought his unerring sense of modern urban life to bear on the conflict between blacks and Jews then inflaming his native Brooklyn. The sole tenant in a run-down tenement, Henry Lesser is struggling to finish a novel, but his solitary pursuit of the sublime grows complicated when Willie Spearmint, a black writer ambivalent toward Jews, moves into the building. Henry and Willie are artistic rivals and unwilling neighbors, and their uneasy peace is disturbed by the presence of Willie's white girlfriend, Irene, and the landlord Levenspiel's attempt to evict both men and demolish the building. This novel's conflict, current then, is perennial now; it reveals the slippery nature of the human condition, and the capacity for violence and undoing.


Praise for The Tenants

"The Tenants marks a turning point in the history of American letters . . . Not only a fascinating book, but a timely one as well."—From the Introduction by Aleksandar Hemon

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The Tenants
LESSER CATCHING SIGHT OF HIMSELF in his lonely glass wakes to finish his book. He smelled the living earth in the dead of winter. In the distance mournful blasts of a vessel departing the harbor. Ah, if I could go where it's going. He wrestles to sleep again but can't, unease like a horse dragging him by both bound legs out of bed. I've got to get up to write, otherwise there's no peace in me. In this regard I have no choice. "My God, the years." He flings aside the blanket and standing unsteadily by the loose-legged chair that holds his clothes slowly draws on his cold pants. Today's
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  • Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Aleksandar Hemon

  • 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
  • Aleksandar Hemon Velibor Božovic
    Aleksandar Hemon