On the twentieth anniversary of Bernard Malamud's death, Janna Malamud Smith explores her renowned father's life and literary legacy. Malamud was among the most brilliant novelists of his era, the author of the Pulitzer Prize winner The Fixer, as well as The Natural and The Assistantnamed one of the best "100 All-Time Novels" by Time. He counted among his friends Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Theodore Roethke, and Shirley Jackson. Yet Malamud was also very private. Only his family has had full access to his personal papers, including revealing letters and journals that offer unique insight into the man and his work. In her candid, evocative, and loving memoir, his daughter brings Malamud to vivid life as no one else can.
Bernard Malamud, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, grew up in Brooklyn in a home overshadowed by poverty and mental illness. Unable to earn a living in New York, he took a teaching position in Oregon and moved his young family there. For Janna, it was an idyllic time and place. Her father was warm, funny, and passionate about his writing, which was gaining national attention. In 1961, an appointment to Bennington College brought the Malamuds back east and right into the middle of the heady, often hilarious free-for-all that was campus life in that radically changing time. But Bennington’s anything-goes atmosphere and Malamud’s growing fame came at a price to his family: his deep belief that one should live morally crashed into his premise that one should live fully.
Janna Malamud Smith speaks as only a daughter can of a fraught relationship with an adored father. In glowing praise of My Father Is a Book, Susan Cheeverwho also wrote memorably of her own father, John Cheeversays, "This loving portrait of a writer's family from the inside describes good times and difficulties with affection and candor and provides a fascinating backstory for Malamud's great fiction."
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.63(d)|
About the Author
JANNA MALAMUD SMITH is author of two New York Times Notable books, A Potent Spell and Private Matters, which was a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick. She has written for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Threepenny Review, among other publications. A practicing psychotherapist, she lives with her husband and two children in Massachusetts.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My Father is a Book creates a fascinating juxtaposition of two strikingly different families. It contains a discovered family story, the story of Malamud¿s parents, within the memoirist¿s own family story. It¿s remarkably even- handed: loving and fearless in its explorations, original in approach, and engaging as a narrative. Parts of it have stayed with me vividly. In particular, the passages that describe Malamud¿s relationships with his parents and brother are brilliant, somewhat understated and very moving. (The letters from Malamud¿s father are amazing.) I recommend this memoir both to those who like reading memoirs and to those who are interested in learning more about Malamud.