Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.65 X 1.49 X 9.38 inches | 1.85 pounds
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About the Author

Philip Davis is Professor of English Literature at Liverpool University. He has been reading Malamud for over thirty years.


"Wise, scrupulous, resolutely admiring.... Davis is out to remove the slur of moral uptightness and narrow virtue from Malamud's reputation. Gratifyingly, he wants to restore him to the pantheon of great American writers in which Malamud, in our flash-in-the-pan culture, once belonged."--Lee Siegel, New York Times Book Review

"A wonderfully readable, illuminating and entertaining biography. It is rare that a biographer succeeds in evoking, with a novelists skill, such compassion for his (flawed, human) subject; yet more rare, that a biographer succeeds in so drawing the reader into the shimmering world he has constructed out of a small infinity of letters, drafts, notes, manuscripts, printed texts, interview transcripts etc, that the barrier between reader and subject becomes near-transparent."--Joyce Carol Oates, Times Literary Supplement

"Davis is frequently insightful."--Mark Oppenheimer, Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Davis has succeeded in evoking a human being who is interesting in and of himself, quite apart from his literary output. Davis has an understanding of Malamud, the world in which he grew up and that in which he lived his adult life, which is all but flawless in its perceptions and insights."--Martin Rubin, Washington Times

"Davis's book is laudable."--Ben Naparstek, Financial Times

"[A] magnificent labour of love. A triumphant vindication of the art of biography."--Clive Sinclair, Jewish Quarterly

"Excellent...I was impressed with Davis's treatment of the life and the work, and particularly intrigued by his take on Malamud's rapport with Philip Roth, one of the novelist's harshest critics and deepest admirers."--Rachel Donadio, New York Times "Paper Cuts"

"Davis' profound affinity for his subject shapes every discerning paragraph, as do his unprecedented conversations with Malamud's family and colleagues and access to private papers. Matching enthusiastic research with fluent empathy and keen aesthetic understanding, Davis grasps the resonance of Malamud's mother's mental illness and his father's lonely struggle in his humble grocery store while insightfully chronicling Malamud's marriage and teaching career. Wisely eschewing the quotidian, Davis illuminates Malamud's utter devotion to writing."--Donna Seaman, Booklist

"Davis offers an intimate portrait of Malamud's various 'lives' More important, Davis shows the enormous labor of revision that Malamud's art entailed." --Donald Weber, Bookforum

"In all, this is a highly readable, informative, and enjoyable volume on an important literary figure." --Jewish Book World

"A revealing portrait of a compelling writer." --Jewish Chronicle

"Unlike many literary biographies in which a writer's work gets lost in the attention to the external events of the life, Davis's biography focuses on Malamud's life mainly as it illuminates the process by which the plots, the sentences and the paragraphs of the stories and novels come into existence It inspired me." --Eugene Goodheart, Moment

"What Davis's biography helps us understand is how Malamud made use of his life's experiences: It deepens one's appreciation of his stories and novels by demonstrating how he transmuted his experience into art." --Joseph Epstein, Weekly Standard

"This biography may help to refurbish Malamud's position as a major American Jewish writer." --Dr. Morton I. Teicher, Jewish Advocate

"Philip Davis's biography of Bernard Malamud is everything a writer hopes to find in the biography of a great writer. Davis is a great reader, and he sees where Malamud's writings are coming from." --A. S. Byatt, The Guardian

"Philip Davis' most remarkable achievement is to have reconstructed Malamud's writing life out of the layers of manuscripts and drafts of his works. He makes you want to reread slowly the works you probably raced thorugh years ago I don't know of any biography of a literary person that pays this much attention to style and does it so well."--Dean Flower, The Hudson Review

"A sensitive yet probing biography." --Ruth Franklin, New York Sun

"Philip Davis' biography...succeeds in giving us a writer who, like his creations, managed to elicit extraordinary resonance by drawing the bow of language across the strings of an ordinary, small--and often somber--life."--Haaretz

"A wonderful addition to Malamud studies; recommended for literature collections."--Library Journal

"Fascinating."--Publishers Weekly

"Davis's book is laudable, if not always engrossing, for its refusal to glibly psychologize or strike false epiphanies to make Malamud's life read like fiction. It is fortunate that Davis's biography has arrived."--Jerusalem Post