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The Fixer [Read] ➲ The Fixer ➺ Bernard Malamud – Set in czarist Russia The Fixer is the story of the strains and anxieties that beset a man who finds himself a stranger in his community and a victim of irrational prejudice as a wave of anti Semitic Set in czarist Russia The Fixer is the story of the strains and anxieties that beset a man who finds himself a stranger in his community and a victim of irrational prejudice as a wave of anti Semitic hysteria engulfs a town after the murder of a boy Yakov Bok an ordinary handyman is charged with the ritual murder of the boy simply because of his Jewish heritage The story of Bok's struggle in an atmosphere of hate is universally applicable to that of any victim of a miscarriage of justice and mob prejudice.

10 thoughts on “The Fixer

  1. WILLIAM2 WILLIAM2 says:

    After reading 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 But there's not much to fix in the shtetl and not much money to go around in payment Bok is usually paid in soup But Bok is ambitious and after being left by his wife whom he believes barren he heads for nearby Kiev where there dwells a large population of Jews living in the ghetto He believes that in the shtetl life was passing him by On his way to Kiev he fantasizes about wealth and property and a new wife who bears him beautiful children He is able to pass for a Russian One day he finds a fat man Nikolai Maximovitch face down in the snow Turning him over he detects first the liuour on his breath and then the emblem of the Black Hundreds a virulently anti Semitic group on his coat The man's daughter appears and together they carry the inebriate home As a reward Bok is put to work papering the flat Nikolai Maximovutch owns above his own for 40 rubles an enormous sum Later Bok is promoted to run the Russian's brick factory When a dead boy is found and his death absurdly attributed to nonexistent Jewish practices Bok is picked up by the police It's clear from the start that their only goal is to frame him for this murder The intensity of false witness borne against Bok simply astonishes The monstrous hate with which his accusers are consumed stuns the mind The so called testimonies from so called witnesses reveal a legal system rotten to the core Everyone it seems is a pathological liar The fixer is then moved to prison and it is here that Malamud appears to do the impossible to take us through a day to day existence that is bleakness itself and yet which holds the reader through sheer narrative impetus Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon was probably a model for Malamud and without uestion Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago did not appear until 1972 and The Fixer was published in 1966 Both are set in Russia and contain long detailed sections about coercing false confessions I know a lot of readers abhor this book or any book not about sunny feel good topics Those readers are apparently in the game for its power to divert them from their current miseries The Fixer isn't interested in doing that It is in fact about misery about suffering It's almost as if Malamud said Let me take the grimmest subject matter imaginable and not only make it supremely readable but make it into art However he has done far than that He has also dramatized a common plight under the ignorant Tsar Nicholas II whose entire family would shortly be executed by the Bolsheviks and thereby instructs us all in matters of virtue

  2. Exina Exina says:

    It was one of my reuired readings in college Like every Malamud novel The Fixer is a very disturbing read almost traumatic The writing is brilliant but I have no intention to read it again Ever

  3. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    Displacement activity is when you do stuff to avoid doing other stuff so like instead of reviewing The Fixer I have been playing scrabble with daughter we agree that ex is an allowable word and switching the tv aimlessly on to find a drama in which they are just about to cut off John Paul Getty’s ear to prove to the father they have got the kid I did not care to see that and then I lectured the two cats on the importance of not chasing each other around the house at ridiculous times of the night but they were sullen and would not look me in the eye and then I read all the other reviews of The Fixer and found to my complete lack of surprise they’re 99% 4 or 5 stars Hmmm The damn thing won the Pulizer and the National Book Award in 1967 at the very moment the fab four were singing that there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be – great God almighty is that really what John Lennon really sings? Yes – it is So try telling that blissed out truth to Yakov Bok the poor goon who gets accused of the Jewish ritual murder of a 12 year old boy and spends 3 years in increasingly miserable prison cells awaiting trial It’s okay Yakov – according to John Lennon that’s where you’re meant to be so just go with the antisemitic flowEverybody thinks this book is very profound all about the human condition and the philosophy of Spinoza and the racist state and so forth but I thought it was like being the clapper in a bell that would never stop ringing Bongggggg bonggggggg bonnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggg – people are very cruel – bong bongggggg – the Russians really hated the Jews back then – bonggggggg – you can’t escape your fate – bonnnnnnnngggggg – nobody will save you in the end – bongbongbong Let’s do a random core sample of this book As the day wore on he groaned often tore his hair with both fists and knocked his head repeatedly against the wall P91Manacled his legs chained nervously exhausted his body in flight though he tried with ten fingers to hold on to his mind he stood with five armed guards at his back P138The leg chains were too short for Yakov to climb the steep steps so he was seized under the arms by two of the gendarmes and dragged and pushed up P172All day th fixer walked in his cell sometimes he ran five steps three five three breaking the circuit to hurl himself against the wall or smash his fists against the metal door P232At five in the morning the day began and never ended In the early evening dark he was already lying on his mattress trying to sleep Sometimes he tried all night P274They’re trying to unhinge me thought the fixer and then they’ll say I went mad because I committed the crime P319He was chained to the wall again Things went badly P375So you see what I’m saying – what we have here is nothing but the unjust cruel sadistic sufferings of wretched Jakov the nobody for 350 pages with a few pages of uncontrolled rantings from the prison warden about how the Jews make matzos for Passover from the blood of Christian children thrown in to give the reader a break Now and again a defence attorney appears to dangle some distant fruitless hope in front of the half dead Jakov and he grasps at this faint possibility with a painful naivete The defence attorney usually commits suicide or is mysteriously drowned within a few pages Yes most of this sorry tale is based on the real case of Mendel Beilis a falsely accused Jew who – remarkably – was acuitted by the Christians on the jury when he finally got tried But he wasn’t a free thinking non religious guy like Jakov That part is made up The wrongly accused man – boy we have a lot of those in our fiction There’s a listopia devoted to themhttpswwwgoodreadscomshelfshowwhich omits some of the famous – off the top of my head how about Atonement The Trial The Count of Monte Cristo Caleb Williams Les Miserables well he pinched a loaf To Kill a Mockingbird Alias Grace The Green Mile Darkness at Noon – and Hitchcock liked them too see The Wrong Man and Frenzy In these tales we always get the story from the poor innocent’s point of view We never get to be with the perpetrators So we readers always get to feel totally righteousJonathan Safran Foer in his introduction says this is pre eminently a novel to galvanise the reader into political action When I finished reading this novel I felt castigated and inspired Grumbling about the state of the world suddenly wasn’t enough And excusing myself from political activity felt wrongHe is much robust than me When I finished this novel I was thinking wow if you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time there is really not one thing you can do about it I was actually de galvanised I was enervated The only glint of light in the whole novel was a reflection off the polished boot that was stamping down on Jakov’s head It was all much too much For a much better novel about the grinding misery of prison One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by SolzhenitsynFor a novel which makes the antisemitism of The Fixer seem like a stroll in the park on a pleasant Sunday morning should you really want such a thing see The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski

  4. Ted Ted says:

    kissing this book goodbye from my real book shelves probably my fault that I didn't uite see the artistic depths of the novelThe 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 I just skimmed through the last 60 pages of the book perhaps I will change my mind about it at some point But for now the one thing that I dislike about the book is its resolution Perhaps very artistic but it seemed to me that Malamud finally couldn't decide how he wanted to end the book and just stopped writing So I wanted to keep reading this depressing and horrifying tale Strange If not for this I would give the book 5 stars Previous review Look Homeward AngelNext review The Portable FaulknerMore recent review The European Mind 1690 1715Previous library review Wicked the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the WestNext library review A Canticle for Leibowitz classic post holocaust SF

  5. Chrissie Chrissie says:

    I am going to start with some uotes Taste them enjoy them and then roll them around in your head “ If I have any philosophy” said Yakov Bok “ it is that life could be better than it is”“ One thing I’ve learned he thought there’s no such thing as an unpolitical man especially a Jew You can’t be one without the other that’s clear enough You can’t sit still and see yourself destroyed”Yakov reflects as he goes to his trial “ What is it Spinoza says? If the state acts in ways that are abhorrent to human nature it’s the lesser evil to destroy it Death to the anti Semites Long live revolution”In discussing Spinoza the investigating magistrate asks Yakov how one can achieve freedom if all life is bound by “Necessity” determinism Yakov replies “ That's in your thought your honor if your thought is in God That's if you believe in this kind of God; that's if you reason it out It's as if a man flies over his own head on the wings of reason or some such thing You join the universe and forget your worries”This book is an intense gripping depiction of discrimination of the Jews in Czarist Russia at the beginning of the 20th century It is based on the incarceration of Menahem Mendel Beilis which eventually lead to trial in 1913 We are given a fictionization of the arrest and two and half years in prison awaiting trial In the fictional account the imprisoned Jew is Yakov Bok apolitical a freethinker and unreligious He is your Everyman He has left his wife his father in law and the shtetl all that had ever been home Six years married still no child and his wife has left him for a lover In Kiev he hopes to make something of himself but it is in Kiev that he is accused of killing and draining blood from a Christian child It is Passover and the blood is supposedly a necessary ingredient for the holiday matzos He is accused of ritual murder That he has rejected Judaism and that he declares himself to be a freethinker is discounted The truth is if it were not him another Jew would have been accused He was there at the wrong place and at the wrong time and he is Jewish by birth It is his treatment during incarceration that is so intense and so gripping It is brutal and in no way an easy read Yakov’s mental and psychological transformation is the second element of the story Here ugly horror is balanced by hope Maybe Spinoza is brought into the context of the story over and over again Yakov is no philosopher He is just your ordinary man trying if only marginally to improve himself He had come across the Spinoza book at a flea market and picked it up for a kopek A wasted kopek most probably but then he started reading and it made a place in his thoughts most definitely He is struggling to make sense of life In prison forces are physically and mentally annihilating him Conversely he is struggling to cope and to find a reason for living See what I have underlined in the last uote aboveI might say that the story goes on a bit too long Hallucinations at the book’s end detract from the story’s believability and impact They are too clever too after the factThe book is about racism and prejudicial discrimination It is not really philosophical but you watch how philosophy changes Yakov The telling is matter of fact down to earth but intense The narration of the audiobook by Victor Bevine is very well done I had no problem following any of the lines Punlished in 1966 The Fixer won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award for fiction Menahem Mendel Beilis’ descendants claim that Malamud had plagiarized the English edition of their memoir See Blood Libel The Life and Memory of Mendel Beilis Includes Beilis's Memoir the Story of My Sufferings; And Pulitzer Plagiarism What Bernard Malamud's the Fixer Owes to the Memoir of Mendel Beilis It can be difficult to separate source material and creative innovation Views differ

  6. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    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 the Jews after WWII the reordering of one’s worldview after Evil has shown its face and won the attempt to locate spirituality and morality in a world without God the slow glimmer of revelation that Jewishness is not in the end really Chosenness in any sense that can improve your life I love these themes but they come across better for me in a treatment of an old Jew in New York finding God in Harlem a Jewish family trusting an untrustworthy Italian goy an encounter between spiritually and morally flawed characters from colliding cultures who will each find redemption in ways that will surprise you Malamud’s other works like Flannery O’Connor’s embody both apostasy and a deeply religious and redemptive view of the world; they are about a spirituality that needs no God I love that I know these themes are in this tome as well but I still don’t get it Can anyone explain to me why The Fixer is considered Malamud’s greatest work?

  7. Karyn Karyn says:

    If I have any philosophy it's that life could be better than it isWhat suffering has taught me is the uselessness of sufferingWhat can I possibly add to this? Read it for yourself I highly recommend it but it may not be for the faint of heart

  8. Marvin Marvin says:

    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 RussiaI 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 horrific situation His one deceit trying to pass as a gentile in an anti Semitic society is a deceit born of desperation and survival Yakov is accused of killing a young boy in a Blood Ritual In the Russia of 1905 he has little chance of proving himself innocent He is beaten and thrown in jail to waste away only to be repeatedly told to sign a confession to stop the torture Yakov refuses but his faith in humanity in society and in God is tested and weakened He meets only one man who is willing to fight for him but even that is no match for the fears and prejudices of an unfair societyMalamud is not the type of writer to sugar coat anything His style is to the point and his descriptions of prison life comes close to unbearable Yet Yakov remains the focus of this tale and that is the strength Many of the most moving moments comes when Yakov have delusions and dreams caused by starvation illness and general suffering These delusional dialogues hold much of the philosophical meat of the novel The ending dialogue of Yakov talking to Tzar Nicholas is a fitting and satisfactory scene in a climax that looks open ended but really isn' For while the author packs a lot of social and political discussion points in his tale it is really about the emotional and philosophical journey of Yakov who would like to fix much than just material objects but doesn't know howI don't know how well Malamud has held up in the 21st century But if any writer can be called a student of the human condition it is he His writings still hold true in its assessment of humankind's fears toward the unfamiliar and society's oppression toward others

  9. Kirsten Kirsten says:

    Beautifully written Intense Difficult CompellingThese are just a few words to describe this book and none of them seem to describe it correctly It is difficult to read a book like this especially at this time of the year But an important book especially at this time of Islamophobia Replace the word Jew with Muslim and it would describe many Americans beliefs The book is set in Tsarist Russia during the Jewish pogroms but it might just as well have been set in Trump's America Very hard to read But I am glad I did

  10. Josh Josh says:

    In chains all that was left of freedom was life just existence; but to exist without choice was the same as death

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