I recently finished reading The Fixer by Bernard Malamud, originally written in 1966, which was re-published by Atlantic Books in April this year.
The Fixer has been re-published by Atlantic Books to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the American author Bernard Malamud.
It tells the story of ‘the fixer’ – Yakov Bok, a Jew wrongly accused of murdering a young Russian boy in Kiev in 1911. I was fascinated to read about the prejudice this innocent man faces, the hardship he endures in prison whilst waiting to hear if he will ever face trial.
I know very little about the plight of Russian Jews at the start of the last century, other than a vague knowledge of pogroms. Bok comes from the Ukraine, life has not been particularly good for him. His wife has run away with another man, they weren’t able to have a child, he wants more from life and decides to leave all he knows in search of a better life. He ends up in Kiev, hoping that his situation will improve. He comes to the aid of a Russian businessman, who has fallen in a drunken stupor. The man and his daughter insist on ‘helping’ this young man and ask him into their home, and to carry out some work for them.
Bok, seeing the man belongs to an Anti-Semitic organisation, hides his Jewish identity. He is then offered a lifeline, working as a live-in Foreman at the Russian’s brick factory. His only problem being that Jews are not allowed to live or work in that district of Kiev. He is disliked by his colleagues as he puts a stop to their fraudulent activities.
We then follow as Bok is accused of the ritual murder of a young lad who has previously caused problems at the Brick works. All he admits to is being Jewish, but that’s enough for him to be imprisoned and the start of his real hardship begins.
I can’t say that I loved this book, I didn’t. But I did want to pick it up each night and find out whether Bok ever secured justice. I was saddened to read what the fixer endured, purely because of his religious background. The corrupt officials who were more than happy to frame a man, who clearly had not committed any crime, other than hiding his religion.
The Fixer is an interesting and thought-provoking book. I’m glad I’ve read it, and will be reading The Assistant by the same author soon.
You can purchase this book through my Amazon affiliate link below.
disclaimer: we were sent this book in exchange for an honest review.