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The Fixer

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  7,786 Ratings  ·  384 Reviews
A classic that won Malamud both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award
"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 fo
Paperback, First Pocket Books printing, 306 pages
Published (first published 1966)
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Sep 08, 2011 William1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
After reading over a hundred pages in Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium, which is in large part about the horrid pogroms unleashed on Europe's Jews in the Middle Ages, I thought The Fixer would be a compatible co-read. The novel is set in Russia between the end of the Russo-Japanese War (1905) and the start of the Bolshevik Revolution (1917). The Fixer tells the story of Yakov Bok, a Jew dwelling in a Russian shtetl 30 versts from Kiev who tries to work as a general handyman, a fixer. ...more
A huge disappointment as I’d briefly christened Malamud My Favorite Author after having recently read The Assistant and several short stories (“The Angel Levine”!). This is the book that won Malamud the Nobel, and I had to wonder why. It’s ideological, heavy handed, a hammer on your skull, bald-faced allegory, and miserable to read, pages and pages of suffering. I know there’s a grand point here, and it has something to do with the philosophy of Spinoza (which I haven’t read), God’s betrayal of ...more
May 27, 2013 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yakov Bok is non-religious and apolitical. He simply wants a better life. He is slightly bitter that life gives him lemons but no sugar to make lemonade but that does not keep him from trying to improve. He reads Spinoza to educate himself and moves to Kiev to start a better life. He is a repairman aka a "fixer". Unfortunately, he is also a Jew in Tsarist Russia.

I like Yakov. He is Everyman. He is not a hero nor a wise man. But he is sincere and honest. He is a basically honest man placed in an
Apr 29, 2017 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-five, 2017
"In chains all that was left of freedom was life, just existence; but to exist without choice was the same as death."
Apr 15, 2015 Vishal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is victory, but a victory in the heart? What is the greatest freedom, but the freedom of the mind?

In the Fixer, Yakov Bok is a man accused of a brutal crime, and is forced to see new depths of human degradation every day during his imprisonment. His suffering hasn’t just begun then; no, his suffering began since time immemorial, when his people were persecuted for their beliefs, and subjected to vile, violent and senseless racism (not that racism has any sense in the first place).

‘In or o
Nov 21, 2016 Cosimo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tu sei ciò che vuoi essere

L'uomo di Kiev vinse il Pulitzer e il National Book Award, il secondo per Malamud dopo quello ottenuto per i racconti superlativi de Il Barile Magico. Ed è un romanzo eccezionale, rappresenta una vetta sublime e inimitabile nel mondo della letteratura contemporanea. Nel romanzo, sofferenza e umiliazione sono raccontate come condizioni universali e ineluttabili, il dolore si percepisce come una porta per la maturazione, il riscatto e la consapevolezza. La tragedia indivi
Oct 25, 2015 Karyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
"If I have any philosophy, it's that life could be better than it is."

"What suffering has taught me is the uselessness of suffering."

What can I possibly add to this? Read it for yourself. I highly recommend it, but it may not be for the faint of heart.
Apr 20, 2017 Simona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I personaggi dei romanzi di Malamud portano con sé sempre un velo di malinconia e "L'uomo di Kiev" non fa eccezione. A differenza de "Il commesso" o "Una nuova vita" dove i protagonisti si muovevano nei sobborghi delle metropoli, qui le vicende si svolgono in Russia. La Russia qui descritta è la Russia zarista del 1911, la Russia antisemita. Dalla Russia a Kiev conosciamo Yakov, un emigrato che giunge in Ucraina a cercare fortuna. La vita a Kiev gli mostrerà il lato più crudele, arrivando anche ...more
Feb 16, 2012 Ted rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
kissing this book goodbye from my real book-shelves ... probably my fault that I didn't quite see the artistic depths of the novel.

The is a Pulitzer prize winning novel. I found it a very depressing read. It tells a story that, in its historical setting, is believable. The main character is a victim of circumstances, for which we feel sympathy, and even horror when we reflect on the fate that befalls men. But he is not actually very likable. All of these things are good, or at worst, not bad.

Simon Wood
Aug 28, 2013 Simon Wood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I first read Bernard Malamud's "The Fixer", which I picked up for the now unimaginable sum of ten pence in a charity shop, over a dozen years ago. It struck me at that time as a powerful and even important work. Reading it again so many years later I wondered how it would hold up.

Yakov Bok, the Fixer of the title, is a free-thinking Jew whose trade is that of a handyman from the Pale in the Ukraine (where Jews are legally allowed to reside) in the last years of the Tsarist
Jul 22, 2008 Ademption rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian Pardo
Mar 28, 2011 Ian Pardo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bernard Malamud's Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winner is a nightmare rendered masterfully as art. Yakov Bok's story is that of human dignity, and the search thereof even in the most indignant of circumstances. According to Yakov, if he has a philosophy, it's that things in this world can be better.

And this perhaps is the book's greatest legacy. In the insightful foreword by Jonathan Safran Foer, he says that the world is the broken thing and that everyone can be its fixer. And though
Jan 12, 2014 Joey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictions
POGROM is the word which can give readers an idea of what this book is all about. This means a planned killing of large numbers of people, especially Jews, usually done for reasons of race or religion. In other words, it is synonymous with MASSACRE. The book, therefore, deals with anti-Semitism during Tsarist Russia beyond my knowledge of World History.

This book breaks my heart and makes me feel for the protagonist, Yakov Bok, a Jewish fixer by trade, who dreamed to make something of himself by
Ubik 2.0
Jun 13, 2015 Ubik 2.0 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-e-book
Detenuto in attesa di giudizio

Ho intrapreso la lettura di questo romanzo con un eccesso di aspettative dovuto al collegamento di Malamud (di cui non avevo mai letto nulla) con Philip Roth che gli dedicò un saggio e ne fu ispirato al punto di rappresentare in alcune sue opere un personaggio (E.I. Lonoff), anziano e ammirato scrittore, che alcuni ritennero ispirato alla figura di Malamud (altri però dicono Bellow, altri ancora Henry Roth!).

Comunque sia, dopo la delusione iniziale per la distanza s
Saverio Mariani
Brevi appunti su un libro bellissimo.

Malamud inizia il romanzo con una sordina che gli impedisce quasi di parlare. Tranne qualche sferzata brusca, attraverso le quali si snoda la vicenda, il tutto è stretto dentro un rivolo leggerissimo d'acqua. Un rischio gigantesco.
Ma si percepisce che, nonostante la sordina, la melodia che suona in fondo è qualcosa di struggente bellezza.

Le 400 pagine del romanzo viaggiano attraverso tre anni di vita, conducendoti nelle storture dell'umano, nella capacità d
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 03, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE FIXER. (1966). Bernard Malamud. *****.
This is probably Malamud’s best known work, and was the winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. This is the first I’ve read it since its publication in 1966. I was amazed at how much of the story stuck with me over the years. The ‘fixer’ was Yakov Bok, an itinerant Jewish handyman. He was modeled after the real-life character, Mendel Beiliss, who was arrested and falsely charged with the murder of a 12-year old boy in order to sati
Jan 18, 2015 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: one-star, goodbye
Well that was depressing. There may have been a time or two I have been this relieved that I have finally finished a book, but it hasn't happened often. It was such a relief to close that book knowing I never have to open it again. I know that "The Fixer" has won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, just knowing that made me go and find out what it takes to win either of these awards and this is what I found just in case you're interested:

"Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: for disting
Yair Ben-Zvi
Dec 02, 2012 Yair Ben-Zvi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all the novels I've read in the last few years, the ones that could be termed 'Jewish American Fiction', the one I'd say Malamud's The Fixer most resembles is Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird.

Both of the novels are written in a style so earnest and even a little antiquated that it's almost too much for their respective pages. There's a gradualness to the proceedings, an iceberg like slowness that lends both stories a heightened sense of acute dread interspersed by jarring moments of both dep
Jun 14, 2008 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a difficult book to read, and, I can only imagine, to write. We start with the injustice of poverty and lack of opportunity in the shtetl and move almost directly into a variety of unjust accusations leveled against Yakov Bok, who has become a scapegoat for all the imagined evil deeds of all the Jews in Russia.

Bok leaves the shtetl with hopes of a better life in Kiev. At first, things look up for him. Serendipity finds him a good job, and he is able to afford some books, and even put away s
Tracy Shapley
Aug 28, 2010 Tracy Shapley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer, favorites
With the possible exception of Night by Elie Wiesel, The Fixer is the most powerful and affecting book I've ever read.

It tells the story of a Jew living in Russia ~1920. The Fixer is a man who has grown up in the Jewish ghetto and moves into the city of Kiev in an attempt to make a better life for himself.

He gets a job and all is going well until he runs across a man who is passed out, drunk, in the street. After he helps him to his home, the grateful man offers him a well paying job in his ware
Jan 08, 2013 Elalma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: righe
E� un romanzo bellissimo, anche se apparentemente diverso dagli altri libri di Malamud, un po� per l�ambientazione, un po� per il luogo cos� soffocante e angusto in cui si svolge, quasi kafkiano. Ma � sempre quel senso di sconfitta che per� non cela la dignit� umana a essere narrato. Pur nella profonda tristezza, infatti, nell�ingiustizia, nell�oppressione, l�Uomo non risulta annichilito n� perde se stesso, come invece sappiamo avviene in queste circostanze, grazie a Primo Levi o Boris Pahor. Ri ...more
Dec 30, 2016 Bookslut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer, russia
This was not a happy or uplifting book, which left me hungering for one that was, just to course-correct. I would always read more than I'd intended to, and that must, in a hard book, be an indicator of quality. I wouldn't have guessed a novel mostly about a man held in solitary confinement could be a page turner. I think this might be a good book for high schoolers to read, though they would probably hate it, to get them to think about prejudice and fairness, even the judicial system or fate. I ...more
This book was definitely thought-provoking and interesting, but it was depressing. So depressing. Every time there was a glimmer of hope, there was something to extinguish it. It was hard to read in large chunks. I don't think I can say I enjoyed reading it, but it sparked conversation with my husband and made me think about history and prejudice. Worth reading, but a super downer.
Apr 04, 2015 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Procitana u jednom danu. Teska, mucna knjiga o sudbini covjeka kojeg nigdje nije pratila sreca. Na kraju nevin zavrsi u zatvoru, kopni u zatvoru, slamaju mu duh, ceka optuznicu za ubojstvo ali optuznica nikako da osvane. Eto, kriv je jer je Židov...
Sarah Hanka
Oct 25, 2016 Sarah Hanka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written and the narrative sticks in my mind like a sequence of pictures, faces, happenings. I was with Yakov at every juncture of the tale, and lost my mind with him in the cell. The more things change the more they stay the same - Yakov is in us all, and so the injustice continues.
Apr 15, 2014 Artemisia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nella Russia zarista del 1913, un ebreo viene condannato per l’omicidio rituale di un bambino cristiano. Molto più indietro negli anni e a verste di distanza, Geoffrey Chaucer nell'epigrafe parla di “un piccolo Ugo di Lincoln, trucidato anche tu dagli ebrei maledetti”. Bernand Malamud è ebreo per nascita, ma distante dai rituali della religione a cui appartiene, e estraneo alla geografia fisica e sentimentale degli shtetl europei. Eppure, come fa notare Alessandro Piperno nella sua prefazione, l ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this novel set during the end of Tsarist Russia concerns the titular handyman, Yakov Bok, an agnostic Jew who leaves his village where he’s had nothing but personal and financial failure and tries his luck in Kiev. There in the big anti-Semitic city, Yakov poses as a goy Russian and becomes a brickyard foreman, not through deliberate machinations but a series of events and lies of omission which make this the easiest and safest course for him. But after a young boy ...more
Michelle Layton
Just finished chapter 6 of part 5.

This book is breaking my heart. Yakov, you poor poor man. I've been incredibly privileged in my life and have had very little, if any, personal confrontations with anyone questioning my race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, or anything else. I want to feel that the world has changed since then, as I read a book about this intense anti-semitic witch hunt- but then I read about McCarthyism in our recent past, the recent shooting at a Sikh temple
Ken Deshaies
Apr 13, 2013 Ken Deshaies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, in a sense, a difficult book to read. Actually, it draws you in, compelling you to move through the experiences of its protagonist. Yet you are living vicariously the difficult life of a prisoner reviled by the authorities who, even though they know of his innocence, want to see him suffer for his presumed faith.

Yakov Bok was born poor, a Jew who grew disenchanted with his faith and, hence, considered himself an independent thinker. Yet he cannot shake his birthright and, to his contin
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Bernard Malamud was an author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century. His baseball novel, The Natural, was adapted into a 1984 film starring Robert Redford. His 1966 novel The Fixer, about antisemitism in Tsarist Russia, won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
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“Where to look if you've lost your mind?” 187 likes
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