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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY
Bernard Malamud grew up in an environment not unlike the setting of this novel. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 26, 1914. His father, Max Malamud was a grocer in Brooklyn. His parents were Jewish immigrants.
He attended Erasmus Hall High School, where he later taught night classes. His education continued at City College of New York where he graduated in 1936. He received a Master's degree at Columbia University in 1942. Malamud changed from student to teacher, at Erasmus Hall High School and Harlem High School from 1940-1949. His writing career started during this time.
Malamud's dual careers, teacher and writer, continued at Oregon State (1949-61), then at Bennington College (1961-66, 1968-86).
The author's first novel, The Natural, was very successful critically. It was also successful on a different level, being made into a Hollywood movie starring Robert Redford.
More than some novelists, Malamud wrote short stories. One early collection was The Magic Barrel.
The author's second novel was the one in which we are currently interested, The Assistant, published in 1957. This was followed by A New Life, which is set on an Oregon college campus. While not taken directly from his stint at Oregon State, we can feel confident that it was enriched and influenced by it, just as we can feel confident that The Assistant was enriched and influenced by the author's early life in Brooklyn.
My New Life was followed by Malamud's most honored book, The Fixer, and then by The Tenants.
He married Ann de Chiara in 1945, and they had a son and daughter, Paul and Janna. He was honored with many awards during his career, including: The Pulitzer Prize, Gold Medal of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and two National Book Awards.
He died of a heart attack at the age of 71 on March 18, 1986 in New York City.
Bernard Malamud's Works:
The Natural (1952)
The Assistant (1957)
The Magic Barrel (1958) - Short stories
A New Life (1961)
Idiots First (1963) - Short stories
The Fixer (1966)
Pictures of Fidelman (1969) - Short stories
The Tenants (1971)
Rembrandt's Hat (1973) - Short Stories
Dubin's Lives (1979)
God's Grace (1982)
The Stories of Bernard Malamud (1983) - Short stories
The People and Uncollected Stories (1989)
The Complete Stories (1997)
The authorís descriptions of the setting of the story were undoubtedly influenced by where the author grew up. His father was a Jewish immigrant grocer in Brooklyn, New York. The young Bernard Malamud, besides observing in the store, also learned about Brooklyn on the streets and in public areas.