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God's Grace

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  341 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
God's Grace (1982), Bernard Malamud's last novel, is a modern-day dystopian fantasy, set in a time after a thermonuclear war prompts a second flood -- a radical departure from Malamud's previous fiction.

The novel's protagonist is paleolosist Calvin Cohn, who had been attending to his work at the bottom of the ocean when the Devastation struck, and who alone survived. Thi
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 15th 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1982)
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Jan 08, 2017 BlackOxford rated it liked it
Starting From Scratch

“There is no Man without his Other.” This aphorism of the American philosopher Edgar A. Singer could be the theme (or running joke) of Bernard Malamud’s last novel. Malamud’s technique involves setting up a series of problematic situations in what is essentially a new Genesis as, effectively, a test of Singer’s maxim.

Adonai, HaShem, the Lord, the Creator allows mankind to annihilate itself in a brief but comprehensively decisive nuclear war. The divine intention was the enti
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 24, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 501, sci-fi
Paleologist Calvin Cohn, this novel's protagonist was studying the bottom of the ocean when the Second Flood struck. The flood is due to the thermonuclear war brought about by the Cold War (this novel was first published in 1982) and God willed the total anihilation of men on earth. However, God made a "marginal error" by not seeing Calvin in the bottom of the ocean and also some apes who also survived the catastrophe. The first of these apes to surface out is a chimp called Buz, a subject of a ...more
Jun 03, 2012 Jered rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
What the hell was that? Awful on almost every level. Unless post apocalyptic dystopian tales of bestiality float your boat. I'm guessing there was an allegorical message in there somewhere. Not for me.
Feb 13, 2011 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Never read a Malamud novel before (not sure why, but then again, there's a shamefully long list of authors I have yet to read). Picked this up on advice from a guy named Moffett, whose taste tends to run congruently with my own and who described this book as "crazy" and "insane." Which it was. A sort of Robinson Crusoe meets Lord of the Rings meets Planet of the Apes. Cohn, a scientist at the bottom of the ocean during a nuclear catastrophe, emerges to find the world flooded and desolate--he, ap ...more
Petra Eggs
May 05, 2015 Petra Eggs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
An allegory, a fairy story, another end of the world drama where the only question is does the human screw up paradise yet again?

Malamud's writing is so excellent, his characterisation so real, that whether or not the plot is quite 'all there', the book is thoroughly enjoyable to read.
Feb 28, 2010 ben rated it liked it
Made bestiality bearable.

HAH, a pun.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2012 Ensiform rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Calvin Cohn, a Rabbi’s son, is the last man left alive after God wipes out mankind with a second Flood. There are other simians on the planet however, and Cohn starts a new civilization with some chimps (who soon learn to talk), a quiet gorilla and feral baboons on an island. His attempts to play God with the apes, however, go awry after he fathers a hybrid baby with the female chimp.

I first read this in high school; I’m not entirely sure I understand it any more than I did 17 years ago. I belie
Mark Speed
Dec 20, 2014 Mark Speed rated it it was amazing
This is a really fantastic novel. One man stuck on a desert island - the sole survivor of God's wrath. He tries to bring some sort of order to his new habitat, and forgiveness from his maker. It's witty and deep.I always wondered if Yann Martel read it before he wrote Life of Pi.

This novel had a profound influence on me when I was writing a religious-themed novel that included a gorilla, which I will rewrite and publish at some point.
Arax Miltiadous
Η μαεστρία έγκειται στο ότι παρά την όλη παραδοξότητα ο συγγραφέας επιτυγχάνει να σε κρατήσει εντελώς συντονισμένο με την ιστορία του, σε βαθμό που βρίσκεις τον εαυτό σου να μοιράζεται τους προβληματισμους του Κον, αλλά και των χιμπατζήδων- ενίοτε. Τουλάχιστον εγώ αυτό ένιωσα.
Κατά τα άλλα ΟΚ, μου άρεσε το βιβλίο, δεν με κατατροπώσε κιόλας αλλά το απελαυσα. Αν έτσι θα είναι η οργή του Θεού από την σάπια συμπεριφορά του ανθρώπου, ίσως και να αξίζει στους χιμπατζήδες να πάρουν την σκυτάλη.
Robert Muir
Dec 05, 2016 Robert Muir rated it did not like it
Remarkably stupid.
Jun 14, 2015 Sheryl rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ali Syed
Jan 12, 2015 Ali Syed rated it it was amazing
In the end, Cohn is subsequently taken to be sacrificed by BUZ. Now my question is this: Did Malamud try to recreate the scenes of Christ's sacrifice or was he referring to Abraham's ascend to Moriah to sacrifice Isaac (or Ishmael) only in this case, it was the son preparing the Father for sacrifice?

Now of course the first assumption makes it clear that Cohn act was voluntary (which is suggested when he asks Buz to untie his hand assuring him he won’t protest or run away) knowing well that his s
Kate Davis
A good read overall, from both religious and evolutionary standpoints - Malamud interestingly reconciles the two while questioning God's will. His style is very minimalistic, which in the first chapter of the Day of Devestation (or so Cohn, the protagonist, refers to the Flood with which man destroys himself) is engaging. The contrast of such a simple style with the havoc around Cohn allows the imagination to expand and fill in the gaps, the loneliness and isolation, more than any words ever cou ...more
Lisa Louie
Feb 24, 2009 Lisa Louie rated it really liked it
Calvin Cohn resurfaces from a deep sea dive to find the world destroyed by nuclear war and a subsequent flood, and then God appears to tell him that his survival was an oversight and that he is the last human on the earth. Before long, Cohn finds himself in the company of a group of chimpanzees on a tropical island. Once he teaches them to speak, Cohn sets about to recreate a better world since they've all been given a second chance. But there's only one young female chimp, and everything goes t ...more
Jun 14, 2012 Du rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
I have read Mr. Malamud's The Natural, and The Assistant, so I was attracted to this book right off the bat. It is a very different construct then the other books. In this book, Malamud writes about a dystopian future, where a Second Flood has occurred after a nuclear war. Not what I was expecting. Unlike the other books I have read by Malamud, there is a heavy presence of God and Judaism here as well. Overall, it is a great book.

The story is well told, the pace is quick and the writing is excel
Aug 15, 2009 Marvin rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Panic
Aug 21, 2008 Peter Panic rated it liked it
God wipes the Earth clean but makes a mistake by leaving Calvin Cohn behind. Afterwards you're left to wonder was it really a mistake and what in God's name was going through Cohn's mind while doing half of what he does. What is required is more religious insight than I care to possess and more than necessary amount of knowledge on primates. Interesting story, but since I dislike monkeys and am somewhat amoral I doubt I would ever think of this tale again.
Mar 10, 2012 Avi rated it it was amazing
I *loved* this book, but I haven't read it for several years, so now isn't the proper time to do a review. All I will say is it's completely unique. It reminded me a bit of Gulliver's Travels and Lord of the Flies. The story last surviving human (Jew) stuck on an island with several talking Christian Chimpanzees. Yes. Seriously.
Nov 10, 2013 Calvin rated it liked it
A strange and moving reflection on the relationship between man and God. I don't know if my inability to understand the deeper questions underlying this book made me rate it 2 stars instead of 3, but it was more of a curiosity than a joy. Any one looking for a fresh take on the problem of evil should at least pick it up
Jul 25, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
Wow. Such a weird book. I've dug everything I've read by Malamud and so was excited to read Malamud's take on a post-apocalyptic world . . . It was good. But weird. Been a few years since I read and I think it's worth a re-read . . .
Aug 29, 2012 Tamar rated it it was ok
Shelves: disturbing
The tone is too choppy - clunky transitions from sardonic to hopeful to dark with an attempt at poignant humor that falls flat at the end.

When Buz constantly asks his human "dod" to retell the story of the binding of isaac you know things are not going to end well...
Jun 09, 2011 Britt rated it liked it
Dit boek las ik voor school. Het werd mooier naarmate ik er meer over las en de onderliggende betekenissen begreep.

Ook al interesseerde het onderwerp me niet zo, dit boek is verfrissend omwille van z'n humor.
Al Kratz
Mar 28, 2012 Al Kratz rated it liked it
Not as good as his others but still classic malamud. The talking animals kind of hokey and biblical allegories not familiar to me but still glad I read it and confirms to me how under rated he is.
Feb 28, 2011 Marche rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Such an intersting book. I read this for my religion minor and it is very thought provoking. Recommend.
Mar 17, 2014 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
I'm not remotely religious and I'm not into dystopian fiction, but I found this book totally compelling.
I registered a book at!
May 30, 2013 Joseph rated it it was amazing
Malamud's obscene and grotesque masterpiece. It makes The Fixer seem like a pleasant ethnic romp. This is a work of art, but very difficult to experience.
Oct 11, 2008 Esther rated it really liked it
Recommended to Esther by: Joseph Sherr
What do you do when you're the last man left on Earth -- and the Lord speaks to you to let you know that this was just an oversight?
This is the first book I have read by this author. It is by far the strangest book I have ever read. Idon't know what i expected but this was not it.
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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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