BORN: April 26, 1914, Brooklyn, New York
DIED: March 18, 1986, New York, New York
IDENTIFICATION: Novelist and short-story writer who drew upon the Jewish immigrant experience in America for many of his most successful stories.
Bernard Malamud's characteristic works use Jewish American characters and settings yet transcend specific ethnic themes. A blend of fact and fantasy links his stories to universal human problems of survival and moral responsibility. The Assistant (1957), which established Malamud's reputation as a major novelist, demonstrated this distinctive style. A poverty-stricken grocery store, not unlike the one Malamud's parents owned in his youth, provides the setting within which a young Italian assistant transforms his original scorn for the aged Jewish grocer into a mythical identification with him and accepts his moral values. Malamud's books won two National Book Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.