Bernard Malamud's "Black Is My Favorite Color'' was first published in the Reporter on July 18, 1963. It has since been reprinted in several short story collections, the first being Idiots First, also in 1963.
Eight years before"Black is My Favorite Color'' was published, African-American Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, igniting the Civil Rights movement that reached its height at the same time Malamud was writing his story. The outcry for racial equality that characterized the 1950s and 1960s influenced much literature, including Malamud's. In particular, ‘‘Black Is My Favorite Color'' picked up on the tense relations between the Jewish-American and African-American communities. The story concerns Nat Lime, a fortyish, white, Jewish bachelor in Harlem who repeatedly tries to integrate himself into the African-American community by dating black women, hiring black personnel in his liquor store, and trying to do good deeds for blacks wherever possible. All of his efforts end up backfiring, as his status as a white, Jewish man continually alienates him from all African Americans.
Critics have interpreted the cynical tone of Malamud's story to mean that the author thought the attempts at racial integration at the heart of the Civil Rights movement were hopeless. The story featured a harsh realism, which was a dramatic departure from the mythical style that Malamud had become famous for with novels like 1952's The Natural, his first and still his best-known book. Malamud is often praised for his short stories, and several critics consider "Black Is My Favorite Color'' to be one of his best. A current version of the story can be found in The Complete Stories, published after the author' s death by The Noonday Press in 1997. Malamud is also known for his first short story collection, The Magic Barrel (1958), which won the National Book Award for fiction.