The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

Published: 1966

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 299 pages

Setting: Kiev in 1911

Interest: It was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Summary: Yakov Bok’s wife has left him, which is the final impetus to leave his village, where he can barely make a living anyway. He ends up in Kiev and a series of events puts him in charge of a brick-making factory. He’s nervous because, being Jewish, he’s not supposed to live in that part of Kiev. His fears are realized when a boy is found dead nearby, stabbed multiple times. He is arrested (because he’s Jewish) and sent to jail, where he languishes, waiting for an indictment and a trial. The authorities try to get him to confess, but he maintains his innocence, despite the horrible conditions of jail.

Final thoughts: Such a depressing book. Bok was always worried that someone would figure out he was a Jew. He almost felt vindicated when he was arrested, but he maintained his innocence throughout his imprisonment. I couldn’t understand why the police/prison officials didn’t just fake his confession or enough evidence to convict him. Instead, they just kept him waiting in prison in horrible conditions. Waiting is a horrendously difficult thing to do, especially when you have nothing to do to occupy your time and nothing to look forward to to end the waiting. Waiting in a prison is even worse. Overall, not my cup of tea. I read three books in the process of finishing this one. It wasn’t bad enough to quit reading, but I didn’t exactly find it enjoyable to read, either.

Title comes from: Bok considered himself a fixer, or a handyman.

Awards won: Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for Fiction in 1967

Reading challenges fulfilled: 74/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and 7/12 in the Check Off Your Reading List Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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