Bernard Malamud Biography

(American novelist)

Birthday: April 26, 1914 (Taurus)

Born In: Brooklyn, New York, USA

In Saul Bellow’s words, Bernard Malamud was a ‘writer of exquisite parables’, through which he explicitly described the urban ghetto of immigrant Jews in American society. Truly, master of his profession, his outstandingly spectacular works have beautifully manifested the pathos of the immigrant Jewish Americans in the urbanized society, two National Book Awards and one Pulitzer Prize standing as a testimony of the same. Interestingly, for Malamud, having no background in literature writing proved to be not much of a hindrance as his love for reading and writing overpowered every hurdle, encompassing him with all the talent required for writing a novel. His quest for establishing himself as a writer was promptly realized in 1952 with the release of his debut novel, ‘The Naturals’. Ever since then, one novel after the other, he only bettered his writing capabilities and technique to appeal to a large mass of readers and critics. His masterwork came with the 1966 released novel, ‘The Fixer’ for which he was bestowed with the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. This probably explains him being tagged as the best known American Jewish writers of the early 20th century! To know more about his life and profile, read on the rest of the article.
Quick Facts

Died At Age: 71


Spouse/Ex-: Ann De Chiara

father: Max Malamud

mother: Bertha (née Fidelman) Malamud

siblings: Eugene

children: Janna Malamud, Paul Malamud

Quotes By Bernard Malamud Atheists

Died on: March 18, 1986

place of death: Manhattan, New York

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Erasmus Hall High School, Columbia University

awards: 1959 - National Book Award for Fiction
1967 - National Book Award for Fiction
1967 - Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

1969 - O. Henry Award
1988 - PEN/Malamud Award

Childhood & Early Life
Bernard Malamud was born to Russian Jewish immigrants Bertha and Max Malamud in Brooklyn, New York. He was eldest of the two sons born to the couple. His parents were not highly educated and owned a grocery store to make ends meet.
Unlike his parents, young Malamud had an affinity for books since early on. He loved to read books as they provided him an insight into the world unknown to him otherwise.
He attained his formal education from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. During his years at school, he watched numerous movies and theatres and started penning stories.
Completing his high school degree, he took up a job as a teacher-in-training for a year. Thereafter he enrolled at the City College of New York, graduating from the same in 1936. Four years later, he completed his Master’s degree from Columbia University, writing a thesis on Thomas Hardy.
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He took up a job at the Bureau of the Census in Washington DC, later teaching English at the high school night classes for adults in New York.
In 1948, his passion for writing paved way for his first ever written novel. However, not fully confident about the end-result, he burned the manuscript.
In 1949, he took up the role of an instructor, at the Oregon State University, since the post of a teacher required a PhD degree. He served in this capacity until 1961.
While at the Oregon State University, he devoted three out of the seven days of the week focussing on writing technique. He soon developed a style of his own and started working on his first novel.
In 1952, he came up with his debut novel, ‘The Natural’. The story of the novel revolved around Roy Hobbs, a fictional baseball player who achieved iconic status due to his skilful play. He employed a recurring writing technique in the book, which have been a dominant feature in all his subsequent write-ups.
The success of the first book, growing popularity of him as a writer and the escalating demand rubbed him on a positive note as he set straight to work on the plot of his second novel.
He released his second book, ‘The Assistant’ in 1957. Set in New York, the plot of the novel give glimpses about his own childhood through the course of life of the protagonist, Morris Bober, a Jewish immigrant who though financially instable provides accommodation to an anti-Semitic youth.
Following year, i.e. in 1958, he came up with his first collection of short stories, titled ‘The Magic Barrel’. The book gained a large audience and was exhaustively appreciated by the critics and the readers alike. It even went on to win the National Book Award and opened the gates for more short stories in future like, ‘Idiots’ First’, ‘Pictures of Fidelman’ and ‘Rembrant’s Hat’.
Year 1961 witnessed the release of his next book, ‘A New Life’. The book reveals the life of an ex-alcoholic Jew who takes up the job of a teacher at Oregon State University with an aim gain back his self-respect. Same year, he resigned from his duties at the Oregon State University and take up the post of a creative writing teacher at Bennington College.
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Five years later, he came up with his magnum opus, Pulitzer Prize winning novel ‘The Fixer’. The book, based on the historical account of Mendel Beiliss, a Russian Jew who was accused of murdering a Christian child, met with overwhelming success and was critically applauded too.
In 1967, he was made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Four years later, he came up with yet another novel titled, ‘The Tenants’. Much like his earlier works, the plot of the story was based in New York with two protagonists, a Jewish writer and an African American writer and their struggle for survival.
Towards the later years of his life, he slowed down the pace of his writing and took five years to complete his next novel, ‘In Dubin’s Lives’, wherein the protagonist of the novel tries to uplift his sense of self worth
His last finished work was released in 1982, was titled ‘God’s Grace’. The novel was a take on the Holocaust with description that was similar to the Bible story of Noah’s ark. Following year, he came up with ‘The Stories of Bernard Malamud’.
His final novel was an unfinished work titled, ‘The Tribe’. It revolved around the life of a Russian Jewish peddler and his existence among the Native American Indians.
Major Works
His magnum opus work, ‘The Fixer’ portrays a fictionalized version of the Beilis case, wherein a Jew is wrongly charged of the murder of a Christian child. The book gained instant limelight and went on to win the National Book Award for Fiction and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Awards & Achievements
His first collection of short story was duly appreciated and earned him the National Book Award for Fiction in 1959. He was conferred with the award yet again in 1967 for his masterpiece work, ‘The Fixer’.
‘The Fixer’ which was his magnum opus in his long career was duly appreciated both in popular and critics category. The well written and beautifully captured verse earned him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1967.

In 1969, he was bestowed with the O. Henry Award for his work, ‘Man in the Drawer’.
Personal Life & Legacy
He first met Ann De Chiara in 1942, an Italian-American Roman Catholic, and a Cornell University graduate. The two tied the knot three years later on November 6, 1945.
Chiara proved to be his constant companion and support. She reviewed most of his writings and typed the manuscripts for him. The couple was blessed with two children, Paul and Janna.
He breathed his last on March 18, 1986 in Manhattan. He was aged 71 at the time of death.
Upon his death, a special award was created in his honor, PEN/Malamud award to acknowledge writers who have excelled in the art of short story writing. Some of the recipients of the award include John Updike, Saul Bellow, Eudora Welty and so on.
This prolific Pulitzer Prize and National Book award winner made his debut in the world of writing with his 1952 novel, ‘The Naturals’ which later in 1984 was adapted into a film starring Robert Redford.

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