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

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