Bernard Malamud

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Brooklyn, New York
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Brooklyn, New York

Bernard Malamud was a “writer of beautiful parables,” according to Saul Bellow, through which he plainly illustrated the urban ghetto of immigrant Jews in American culture. Truly a master of his craft, his outstandingly spectacular works have beautifully portrayed the sadness of immigrant Jewish Americans in urbanized culture, with two National Book Awards and one Pulitzer Prize to his credit. Interestingly, Malamud’s lack of a history in literature writing did not prove to be much of a deterrent, as his passion for reading and writing overcame every obstacle, imbuing him with all of the skills needed to write a novel. With the publication of his debut novel, ‘The Naturals,’ in 1952, he was able to establish himself as a writer. Since then, he has only improved his writing abilities and method to appeal to a huge mass of readers and critics, one novel after the next. His masterpiece was the novel ‘The Fixer,’ published in 1966, for which he received the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. This explains why he is considered one of the most well-known American Jewish writers of the early twentieth century! Continue reading the remainder of the article to learn more about his life and career.

Childhood and Adolescence

Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian Jewish immigrants Bertha and Max Malamud. He was the elder of the couple’s two boys. His parents were not well-educated and struggled to make ends meet by owning a grocery business.
Unlike his parents, Malamud grew up with a strong desire to read. He enjoyed reading books because they gave him access to a world that he would not otherwise have had access to.

Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn was where he received his academic schooling. During his school years, he went to a lot of movies and theaters and began writing stories.

After finishing high school, he worked as a teacher-in-training for a year. Following that, he studied in City College of New York, where he graduated in 1936. He earned his Master’s degree from Columbia University four years later, writing a thesis on Thomas Hardy.

Career of Bernard Malamud

He went to work for the Bureau of the Census in Washington, DC, and later taught English to adults at a high school night class in New York.

His love of writing led to the publication of his debut novel in 1948. However, he burned the book because he was unsure of the eventual result.

He began working as a lecturer at Oregon State University in 1949, despite the fact that teaching needed a PhD. He held this position until 1961.

He spent three out of every seven days of the week at Oregon State University focusing on writing technique. He quickly developed his own style and began work on his first novel.

His first work, ‘The Natural,’ was published in 1952. The novel’s plot centred around Roy Hobbs, a fictional baseball star who became famous for his skillful play. In the book, he used a repeating writing method that has been a prominent part in all of his future write-ups.

As he got to work on the plot of his second novel, he was buoyed by the success of the first book, his growing recognition as a writer, and the increasing demand.

In 1957, he published his second work, ‘The Assistant.’ Set in New York, the plot of the novel gives glimpses of his own boyhood through the protagonist, Morris Bober, a Jewish immigrant who, despite his financial difficulties, lends shelter to an anti-Semitic adolescent.

In the following year, he published his first collection of short stories, titled ‘The Magic Barrel.’ The book attracted a broad readership and was widely praised by critics and readers alike. It even went on to win the National Book Award, paving the way for following short story collections such as ‘Idiots’ First,’Pictures of Fidelman,’ and ‘Rembrant’s Hat.’

‘A New Life,’ which was published in 1961, was his next book. The story follows the lives of an ex-alcoholic Jew who accepts a position as a teacher at Oregon State University in order to reclaim his dignity. In the same year, he resigned from his position at Oregon State University to teach creative writing at Bennington College.

He wrote his greatest opus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel ‘The Fixer,’ five years later. The book, which is based on the true story of Mendel Beiliss, a Russian Jew convicted of murdering a Christian kid, was a huge success and received critical acclaim.

He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1967. He published his fourth novel, ‘The Tenants,’ four years later. The storyline of the story was set in New York, with two protagonists, a Jewish writer and an African American writer, and their struggle for existence, similar to his earlier works.

In the latter years of his life, he slowed down his writing and took five years to finish his next work, ‘In Dubin’s Lives,’ in which the protagonist seeks to improve his sense of self-worth.

‘God’s Grace,’ his final completed piece, was released in 1982. The work was a retelling of the Holocaust, with descriptions comparable to those found in the Bible’s account of Noah’s ark. The next year, he published ‘The Bernard Malamud Stories.’

His final novel, ‘The Tribe,’ was an incomplete work. It followed the lives of a Russian Jewish peddler and his interactions with Native Americans.

Major Projects of Bernard Malamud

‘The Fixer,’ his greatest opus, is a dramatized version of the Beilis case, in which a Jew is wrongfully accused of the death of a Christian kid. The book shot to fame almost immediately, winning the National Book Award for Fiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Achievements & Awards

In 1959, his debut collection of short stories was well received, earning him the National Book Award for Fiction. In 1967, he received the award once more for his finest work, ‘The Fixer.’

In his long career, his magnum opus, ‘The Fixer,’ was well received by both the public and reviewers. In 1967, he was awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his well-written and wonderfully rendered verse.

For his work, ‘Man in the Drawer,’ he received the O. Henry Award in 1969.

Personal History and Legacy

In 1942, he met Ann De Chiara, an Italian-American Roman Catholic and Cornell University graduate, for the first time. Three years later, on November 6, 1945, they married.

Chiara proved to be an ever-present companion and ally. She proofread and typed the majority of his manuscripts for him. Paul and Janna, the couple’s two children, were born to them.

On March 18, 1986, he passed away in Manhattan. At the time of his death, he was 71 years old.

Following his death, the PEN/Malamud Award was established to recognize writers who had excelled in the art of short story writing. John Updike, Saul Bellow, Eudora Welty, and other authors have received the honor.

Bernard Malamud Net Worth

Bernard is one of the wealthiest novelists and one of the most well-known. Bernard Malamud’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.

Trivia

With his 1952 novel “The Naturals,” which was later transformed into a film starring Robert Redford in 1984, this prolific Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner made his entrance in the world of writing.