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Desk Job

Deborah Friedell: Bernard Malamud, 15 November 2007

Bernard MalamudA Writer’s Life 
by Philip Davis.
Oxford, 377 pp., £18.99, September 2007, 978 0 19 927009 5
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... called to mind I.B. Singer and, in the most recent Zuckerman novel, Henry Roth. But Philip Davis, Bernard Malamud’s first biographer, persuasively argues that the house, the wife, the joylessness and the drive are all echt Malamud. ‘If you think of me sitting at my desk, you can’t be wrong,’ ...

Like Apollinaire

Michael Wood, 4 April 1996

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by Paul St John Mackintosh and Maki Sugiyama.
Boyars, 189 pp., £14.95, May 1995, 0 7145 2997 4
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A Personal Matter 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by John Nathan.
Picador, 165 pp., £5.99, January 1996, 0 330 34435 8
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Hiroshima Notes 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by David Swain and Toshi Yonezawa.
Boyars, 192 pp., £14.95, August 1995, 0 7145 3007 7
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... and Camus, and before the Sixties became the Sixties. William Golding, Iris Murdoch, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Thomas Pynchon, who else? Oë wrote his graduation thesis on Sartre (in 1959), and evokes Camus in Hiroshima Notes: ‘A plague that ravages a city in North Africa, for example, appears as an abnormal phenomenon; but the doctors and citizens ...

Pictures of Malamud

Philip Roth, 8 May 1986

... is a hard business,’ Cesare said. ‘If people knew there’d be less death.’ From Malamud’s ‘Life is Better than Death’ In February 1961 I travelled west from Iowa City, where I was teaching in the Writers’ Workshop of the university and finishing a second book, to give a lecture called ‘Writing American Fiction’ at a small ...


Claude Rawson, 18 November 1982

God’s Grace 
by Bernard Malamud.
Chatto, 223 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 7011 2647 7
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... they too keep him awake, adding that he would do so if he weren’t so tired. In God’s Grace, Bernard Malamud’s post-nuclear fabulation, there is a Second Flood, the one which God promised Noah there wouldn’t be. It supervenes on the second or terminal Big Bang of nuclear destruction, and it mops up those who escaped that event, on some variation ...

Hysterical Vigour

Frank Kermode, 23 October 2008

by Philip Roth.
Cape, 233 pp., £16.99, September 2008, 978 0 224 08513 7
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... there lies an earlier work, The Ghost Writer, where Lonoff seems to be the mask of the novelist Bernard Malamud (though the resemblance doesn’t seem close) and Amy is imagined to be possibly Anne Frank, rescued and resettled in America. Strange identifications echo round Roth’s collected works, and they aid the creation of narrative and ...

Nicely! Nicely!

Jenny Turner, 13 May 1993

Operation Shylock 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 398 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 224 03009 4
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... letters, it is interesting to compare the impact of Roth’s work with that of his polar opposite, Bernard Malamud. Nobody could accuse Malamud’s tight and perfect fables of anything in the slightest bit crude or vulgar or self-advertising. Roth himself admitted as much in The Ghost Writer, whose meta-hero, the ...


Wendy Lesser: Surfing the OED on CD-ROM, 3 October 1996

... that year), it also had its frivolous, sybaritic side, and not just among the Beat Generation. Bernard Malamud gave us the adjective nyloned to describe a sexy woman’s stocking-clad legs. People under 13 years of age went from being children to being subteens, with their own consumer clout, their own dating patterns, and their own James-Dean-like ...

Audrey’s Eye

Anthony Quinn, 21 February 1991

Leaving Brooklyn 
by Lynne Sharon Schwartz.
Minerva, 146 pp., £4.99, December 1990, 0 7493 9072 7
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Surrogate City 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Faber, 197 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 0 571 14432 2
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... It is the closely bonded immigrant milieu that Woody Allen affectionately revisited in Radio Days; Bernard Malamud set a number of early stories there. Audrey is also leaving behind a six-year-old’s memories of war: the departure of sweetheart Bobby, rationing, the wire on the milk bottles which her mother saves for the war effort, the news of ...


Ian Hamilton: It's a size thing, 19 September 1985

... Philip Roth? Oh, only more so. Philip Roth’s quite funny in a living-room but ... forget it. Bernard Malamud? Unreadable. What about someone as prolific as Joyce Carol Oates? She’s a joke monster who ought to be beheaded in a public auditorium or in Shea or in a field with hundreds of thousands (laughs). She does all the graffiti in the ...

‘OK, holy man, try this

Ian Hamilton: The Hypothetical Philip Roth, 22 June 2000

The Human Stain 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 361 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 0 224 06090 2
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... was he who paid homage to the saintly Lonoff (who Roth persistently refuses to ‘identify’ as Bernard Malamud or Isaac Bashevis Singer, the critics’ choices). Zuckerman, too, has scores to settle and finds it impossible to keep his mouth shut. He, too, is possessed by demons and would sometimes quite like to turn into a breast. Roth has time and ...

Yuh wanna play bad?

Christopher Tayler: Henry Roth, 23 March 2006

Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth 
by Steven Kellman.
Norton, 372 pp., $16.99, September 2005, 0 393 05779 8
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Call It Sleep 
by Henry Roth.
Picador US, 462 pp., $15, July 2005, 0 312 42412 4
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... bestseller list that year; Bellow had already won a National Book Award, as had Philip Roth and Bernard Malamud. Call It Sleep became famous as a distinguished early entry in the new category of American Jewish fiction before going on to become an American classic. In 1963, Henry Roth had suggested in a Zionist magazine that American Jews should think ...
... novelists. American fiction’s most single-minded portrait of the goy is in The Assistant by Bernard Malamud. The goy is Frank Alpine, the down-and-out thief who robs the failing grocery store of the Jew, Bober, later attempts to rape Bober’s studious daughter, and eventually, in a conversion to Bober’s brand of suffering Judaism, symbolically ...

The Unstoppable Upward

James Wolcott: ‘The Life of Saul Bellow’, 24 January 2019

The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965-2005 
by Zachary Leader.
Cape, 864 pp., £35, November 2018, 978 0 224 10188 2
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... past ten or 15 years,’ Julian Moynihan announced in the New York Times, ‘Jewish writers – Bernard Malamud, J.D. Salinger, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, inter alia – have emerged as a dominant movement in our literature. Herzog, in several senses, is the great pay-off book of that movement. It is a masterpiece, the first the movement has ...

Everlasting Fudge

Theo Tait: The Difficult Fiction of Cynthia Ozick, 19 May 2005

The Bear Boy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.99, March 2005, 0 297 84808 9
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... where she hears a famous writer read one of his stories. The story is a modified version of Bernard Malamud’s ‘The Silver Crown’, about a counterfeit rabbi who extorts money out of the desperate by selling them silver crowns which, he claims, have magical powers. Malamud’s story produces in the narrator ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth, 23 January 2014

Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia Roth Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... demands of art, though his wife, Hope, has paid at least as high a price. Lonoff is a version of Bernard Malamud, and there is another Jewish writer in the book, Felix Abravanel, who is a distillation of Bellow with a dash of Mailer. Pierpont rightly acclaims as ‘one of the most beautifully Jamesian phrases in this James-haunted book’ the ...

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