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Who is Bernard Malamud?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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American novelist Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn, New York on 26 April 1914. His parents, Max Malamud and Bertha Fidelman were Russian Jewish immigrants. As a young man, between the years of 1928 and 1932, Malamud attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. In 1936, he received his Bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York. In 1942, he graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree. That same year, he married Ann De Chiara, a Cornell graduate who was working in advertising at the time. The couple had two children, Paul and Janna.

Although Malamud had originally intended upon becoming a teacher, the job market was tight in the years before World War II. Malamud found a job working for the Bureau of the Census in Washington, D.C. after graduating from Columbia. He finally began his teaching career in 1949 when he began work at Oregon State University. It was during his time in Oregon that he first began to publish his novels. He remained there until 1961 when he transferred to Bennington College in Vermont where he taught creative writing.

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Bernard Malamud passed away on 18 March 1986 after a long career of publishing fiction, much of which was award-winning. Malamud’s work often grapples with the ills of society. Abuse, neglect, violence, divorce, and crime all appear in his works. Malamud also wrote about the immigrant experience and, by extension, the coming together of different kinds of peoples. While his novels and short stories often tackled sad and difficult issues, his writings do offer redemption. In the works of Bernard Malamud, redemption is often found in love, and in cooperation of foes or opposites. As a tribute to Malamud’s memory, an annual award, the PEN/Malamud award, was established in 1988. The cash prize is awarded to an individual who has exhibited great skill in the art of the short story.

The following is a list of Bernard Malamud’s books and the awards that they received:

  • The Natural, 1952
  • The Assistant, 1957
  • The Magic Barrel, 1958 (winner of the National Book Award)
  • A New Life, 1961
  • Idiots First, 1963
  • The Jewbird, 1963
  • The German Refugee, 1964
  • The Fixer, 1966 (winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction)
  • Pictures of Fidelman, 1969
  • The Tenants, 1971
  • Rembrandt's Hat, 1974
  • Dubin's Lives, 1979
  • God's Grace, 1982
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