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Bernard Malamud

A Writer's Life

Bernard Malamud
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Philip Davis presents the first full-scale biography of Bernard Malamud (1914-1986), the self-made son of poor Jewish immigrants who went on to become one of the foremost novelists and short-story writers of the post-war period. The time is ripe for a revival of interest in a man who at the peak of his success stood alongside Saul Bellow and Philip Roth in the ranks of Jewish American writers. - ;Philip Davis tells the story of Bernard Malamud (1914-1986), the self-made son of poor Jewish immigrants who went on to become one of the foremost novelists and short-story writers of the post-war period. The time is ripe for a revival of interest in a man who at the peak of his success stood alongside Saul Bellow and Philip Roth in the ranks of Jewish American writers.

Nothing came easily to Malamud: his family was poor, his mother probably committed suicide when Malamud was 14, and his younger brother inherited her schizophrenia. Malamud did everything the second time round - re-using his life in his writing, even as he revised draft after draft. Davis's meticulous biography shows all that it meant for this man to be a writer in terms of both the uses of and the costs to his own life. It also restores Bernard Malamud's literary reputation as one of the great

original voices of his generation, a writer of superb subtlety and clarity.

Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life benefits from Philip Davis's exclusive interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, unfettered access to private journals and letters, and detailed analysis of Malamud's working methods through the examination of hitherto unresearched manuscripts. It is very much a writer's life. It is also the story of a struggling emotional man, using an extraordinary but long-worked-for gift, in order to give meaning to ordinary human life. - ;In all, this is a highly readable, informative, and enjoyable volume on an important literary figure. - Jewish Book World.;Briliant biography - Gabriel Josipovici, TLS;Most biographies trudge along the surface of a life, amassing and presenting facts, like rubble on a shovel, in which very few precious gems might be visible; this pioneering biography of Malamud presents gem-like aphorisms... and insights and observations of the biographer's, on virtually every page. It is rare that a biographer suceeds in evoking, with a novelist's skill, such compassion for his (flawed, human) subject; yet more rare, that a biographer suceeds in so drawing the

reader into the shimmering world he has constructed out of a small infinity of letters, drafts, notes, manuscripts, printed texts, interview transcripts etc, that the barrier between reader and subject becomes near-transparent. - Joyce Carol Oates, TLS;...wonderfully readable, illuminating and entertaining biography... sympathetic yet persuasively "objective" portrait of the artist. - Joyce Carol Oates, TLS;An exemplary literary biography. - Joyce Carol Oates, TLS Books of the Year;Scrupulous - International Herald Tribune;Philip Davis's biography of Bernard Malamud is everything a writer hopes to find in the biography of a great writer. Davis is a great reader, and he sees where Malamud's writings are coming from. - A. S. Byatt, The Guardian;[A] wise, scrupulous, resolutely admiring biography. - Lee Siegel, New York Times;In this closely-written biography, Davis emphasises those human concerns central in Malamud. - Christopher Hawtree, Daily Telegraph;...timely re-evaluation. - Scotland on Sunday;Davis's book is laudable. - Ben Naparstek, Financial Times;his [Davis] portrait of the man is intelligent and interesting. - Deborah Friedell, London Review of Books;A sensitive yet probing biography. - Ruth Franklin, New York Sun;A revealing portrait of a compelling writer. - The Jewish Chronicle;This book is a fine portrait of a writer, rather than of a man, and will be of most value to anyone interested in the craft. - William Palmer, Literary Review;I found it deeply moving and full of memorable phrases. It is a fitting tribute to one of the major writers of the second half of the twentieth century. - Advance praise, from Gabriel Josipovici;Bernard Malamud is in no danger of being forgotten, but in recent years there has perhaps been a tendency to take him for granted. Philip Davis's admirable biography restores the excitement to his name. It lays bare the unexpected quirks and complexities of his character with sympathy and insight; it throws invaluable light on his story-telling, and at the same time makes a fascinating story in itself. - Advance praise from John Gross

Oxford University Press, UK; September 2007
400 pages; ISBN 9780191608438
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