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The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
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The Fixer (1966)

by Bernard Malamud

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00002141
  cavlibrary | Apr 30, 2013 |
00002136
  cavlibrary | Apr 19, 2013 |
this is one depressing book. i consider myself awfully cynical and suspicious of the human race (it's what happens after doing anti-violence work for too long) but my worldview can't hold a candle to malamud's. or at least to what he allows to happen in this book - the depths of treachery are pretty astounding. certainly he tempers that with hope and with people seeking justice, but the unjust is overwhelming.

one of the things i most like reading about is oppression (i like a good downer), and this definitely fits the bill. in spite of being jewish myself, and that being the type of oppression experienced in these pages, this resonated with me even more with the parallels we can draw to racism in our country. and to so many other kinds of oppression, historical and current, in the world. this kind of book has a lot of reach.

overall, this is a well written, compelling read. there are a few parts throughout that were a little longwinded for me, but it's only a few pages worth in total. there were a couple of things that happened in the last quarter or so that didn't seem to fit so i'll be giving it a bit more thought over the next few days. i suspect that having knowledge of spinoza would be helpful in seeing where the story was going but also the meaning behind it.

this is my second malamud and i would definitely be happy to read more of his work.

"...a skinny worried man in clothes about to fall apart, who looked as though he had been assembled out of sticks and whipped air..."

"'There are no wrong books. What's wrong is the fear of them.'"

"'There's something cursed, it seems to me, about a country where men have owned men as property.'"

"'Keep in mind, Yakov Shepsovitch, that if your life is without value, so is mine. If the law does not protect you, it will not, in the end, protect me.'" ( )
  elisa.saphier | Apr 5, 2013 |
La vita grama di un ebreuccio che per giunta viene incarcerato e trattato peggio che nelle prigioni sovietiche offre lo spunto all'autore per spiegare la situazione dei russi e degli ebrei all'inizio del secolo scorso; abbastanza claustrofobico e pesante ( )
  Lorenzo_Giannini | Sep 10, 2012 |
La vita grama di un ebreuccio che per giunta viene incarcerato e trattato peggio che nelle prigioni sovietiche offre lo spunto all'autore per spiegare la situazione dei russi e degli ebrei all'inizio del secolo scorso; abbastanza claustrofobico e pesante ( )
  Lorenzo_Giannini | Sep 10, 2012 |
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I don’t recommend you read this book if you don’t want to feel uncomfortable, if you don’t want to feel like an outcast yourself. On the other hand, for those of you who enjoy complex characters for whom the intellectual, the spiritual, and the political intertwine, have at it. But know that you are risking the competition of feeling.
 
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Epigraph
Irrational streams of blood are staining the earth. -- Yeats

O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln-- slayn also

With cursed Jewes, as is notable,

For it is but a litel while ago--

Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable, Chaucer

Dedication
For Paul
First words
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.
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Book description
Yakov Bok is an ordinary man accused of "ritual murder" and persecuted by agents of a remote and all-powerful state.
But when he is at last pushed too far, he triumphs over almost incredible brutality and degradation to become a moral giant.

-------------------------
I've just finished reading this book, and it was one I couldn't put down. The time and place was of Yakov Bok, a Jewish man living in Russia when Jews were persecuted and had no status in the society. He starts out to leave his unfaithful wife make a new start on his own One thing leads to another - he gets employment, the business owner's daughter takes a shine to him, and he is just starting to get his life going when he is falsely accused of savagely murdering a child in the neighbourhood.  There is only the accusation which never comes to trial, terrible hardship and long imprisonment without having any chance to defend himself.  He shows tremendous determination in keeping the dignity of a human being who insists on not admitting to a crime of which he is innocent. The ending of this story gives a thoughtful picture of Tsar Nicholas and his way of governing his people. It is a preview in a way of the end of Russia's rule by the aristocracy.  
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374529388, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:40 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In Tsarist Russia, Yakov is accused of a ritual murder he did not commit.

» see all 2 descriptions

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