N W James's Reviews > The Fixer

The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
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's review
Mar 26, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: bookgrouppick
Recommended for: readers of the russian authors
Read in March, 2008

This was a hard one for me to get through. It's been a while since I've read a Russian author, mostly because I remember the cloudy viscous feeling I get whenever I read a story so thick with the horrible things people do to one another. This book reminded me of Tolstoy and Nabakov a little. Bernard Malamud, the author, is american, but the story takes place in the Ukraine just before the first world war. Yakov Bok is a poor small town handyman who gets caught up in a huge political maelstrom after living in a strictly non-Jewish neighborhood. Yakov is written very well, his tribulations while in jail were very vivid to me. The author does a great job painting a picture where completely innocent behavior by a poor man trying to make a living can be completely misconstrued by a racist political machine.

Jonathan Safran Foer's prologue was also well done. In it he states that this book is considered a modern classic because it motivates the reader not just to accept what you're told by politicians and the media, but to question their integrity, their motivation for telling the story and to put the humanity back into these situations. Cases like Yakov Bok's are not uncommon and have happened since society began and justice won't be served if society turns the other way.

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