Bernard Malamud Additional Biography


Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn to Russian immigrant parents. His father, like Morris Bober in The Assistant, was a small grocer, and the family moved around Brooklyn as business dictated. When Malamud was nine years old, he had pneumonia and began a period of intensive reading. Later, encouraged by his teachers, he also began writing short stories.

From 1932 to 1936, Malamud was a student at the City College of New York. He later began work on a master of arts degree at Columbia University, and, while teaching night school at Erasmus Hall, his own alma mater, he started writing in earnest. He married Ann de Chiara in 1945, and four years later he and his family moved to Corvallis, Oregon, where for twelve years Malamud taught English at Oregon State. A son was born before they left for Corvallis, a daughter after they arrived. While there, he published his first three books; after leaving, he wrote his satire of academic life in an English department, A New Life. Returning to the East in 1961, Malamud taught for many years at Bennington College in Vermont. He died in New York on March 18, 1986.


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Bernard Malamud’s youth was spent in a setting much like that in The Assistant. His father was the owner of a small, struggling grocery store. His mother died when he was an adolescent. As a youth he had the freedom to wander around Brooklyn becoming intimately acquainted with the neighborhood. It was not a Jewish neighborhood, but Malamud came to understand the Jewish experience through his hardworking parents, immigrants from Russia.

Malamud began writing stories in high school, and his writing career reflects the discipline and determination of many of his characters. After graduating from Erasmus High School, he earned a Bachelor’s degree from City College of New York. He then attended Columbia University and earned the Master’s degree that enabled him to teach. He taught immigrants in evening school in Brooklyn then in Harlem for eight years, while writing short stories, before getting a job at Oregon State College in Cascadia, Oregon. There he wrote four novels and a collection of short stories. Malamud received the National Book Award for the short-story collection, The Magic Barrel, in 1959. He also received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and the National Book Award for The Fixer in 1967. He accepted a position at Bennington College in Vermont in 1961, where he spent the rest of his teaching career, except for two years as a visiting lecturer at Harvard.

Malamud’s work has an allegorical quality like that of Nathaniel Hawthorne. His stories also reflect the Eastern European storytelling tradition. In this he is like such Yiddish writers as Sholom Aleichem and Isaac Leib Peretz. When Malamud describes, for example, a luckless character (called, in Jewish culture, a schlemiel) living in Brooklyn in the twentieth century, that person seems quite like someone living in the Jewish section of a Polish village. Malamud also captures in his works the sense of irony that pervades the folk stories of a people who recognize themselves as the chosen people and as the outcasts of society.

Malamud saw this paradoxical position as being the plight of all humanity, and he found in the Jew the ideal metaphor for the struggling human being. Acceptance of Jewish identity becomes, for his characters, acceptance of the human condition. Fusing this theme with a style that utilizes irony and parable, realism and symbolism, he presents the flourishing of the human spirit in an everyday reality of pressure and pain.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Although Bernard Malamud (MAL-uh-muhd) is the best-known spokesman of the Jewish experience in American literature, his short stories and novels transcend their ethnic origin and are really about all men and women searching for love and coping with moral responsibility. He was born on April 26, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York, to Bertha and Max Malamud, who ran a grocery store. Although Malamud never talked much about his youth, he did say once in an interview that he very early took to literature and wanted to be a writer; at age nine he was writing stories.

After finishing high school, Malamud attended the City College of New York, where he received his B.A. degree in 1936. Between 1937 and 1940, he attended graduate...

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Bernard Malamud was born on April 26, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Max and Bertha Fidelman Malamud....

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Malamud set The Natural in New York City, where he was born in 1914 and raised by his Russian Jewish immigrant parents. Growing up...

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Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1914 to Russian Jewish immigrants named Max and Bertha Malamud. He later described his...

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Bernard Malamud was born on April 26, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants Bertha (Fidelman) and Max Malamud....

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Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 28, 1914, to Russian Jewish immigrant parents who owned and operated a grocery...

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Bernard Malamud Published by Gale Cengage

Bernard Malamud was born in 1914 in New York City, in a neighborhood that had become famous as the settling place of Jewish immigrants throughout the first half of the twentieth century. His parents, Jews who had emigrated from Russia, worked sixteen hours a day in their grocery store. Malamud spent his childhood in Brooklyn, attending Erasmus Hall High School. It was in high school that he first began writing, starting with short stories about the life he knew best, urban Jewish life. He attended City College of New York—graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936—and Columbia University, also in New York, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in 1942. While working toward his degree, he taught at high schools at...

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