OVERRIDE

A New Life

A Novel

Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Jonathan Lethem

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

"An overlooked masterpiece. It may still be undervalued as Malamud's funniest and most embracing novel." --Jonathan Lethem

In A New Life, Bernard Malamud--generally thought of as a distinctly New York writer--took on the American myth of the West as a place of personal reinvention.

When Sy Levin, a high school teacher beset by alcohol and bad decisions, leaves the city for the Pacific Northwest to start over, it's no surprise that he conjures a vision of the extraordinary new life awaiting him there: "He imagined the pioneers in covered wagons entering this valley for the first time. Although he had lived little in nature Levin had always loved it, and the sense of having done the right thing in leaving New York was renewed in him." Soon after his arrival at Cascadia College, however, Levin realizes he has been taken in by a mirage. The failures pile up anew, and Levin, fired from his post, finds himself back where he started and little the wiser for it.

A New Life--as Jonathan Lethem's introduction makes clear--is Malamud at his best: with his belief in luck and new beginnings Sy Levin embodies the thwarted yearning for transcendence that is at the heart of all Malamud's work.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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A New Life
S. Levin, formerly a drunkard, after a long and tiring transcontinental journey, got off the train at Marathon, Cascadia, toward evening of the last Sunday in August, 1950. Bearded, fatigued, lonely, Levin set down a valise and suitcase and looked around in a strange land for welcome. The small station area--like dozens he had seen en route--after a moment's activity, was as good as deserted, and Levin after searching around here and there, in disappointment was considering calling a taxi, when a man and woman in sports clothes appeared at the station. They stared at Levin--the man
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REVIEWS

Praise for A New Life

"Malamud has written a moving, funny, satiric third novel ... rich in ideas, paradox and the variety of human nature... Levin is one of the most appealingly, sadly, funnily human people in recent fiction and A New Life is a wonderful book."
--Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
 
"The special qualities of Bernard Malamud's fiction which set it apart as serious art ... are its evocation of genuine pity for the calamities which overtake men, its scrupulous and deft playing of an ironic attitude against this pity, and its insistently moral structuring of event."
--The New York Times

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Jonathan Lethem

  • Bernard Malamud (1914 - 1986) wrote eight novels; he won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Fixer and the National Book Award for The Magic Barrel, a collection of stories. Born in Brooklyn, he taught for many years at Bennington College in Vermont.
  • Bernard Malamud Copyright Seymour Linden
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Available Formats and Book Details

A New Life

A Novel

Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Jonathan Lethem

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