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Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide


"The Fixer" by Bernard Malamud



• Thurgood Marshall first Black Supreme Court justice
• Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act
• National Theatre of the Deaf created



Malamud's immigrant parents were Russian Jews who fled tsarist Russia. Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn during rein of Black Hundreds. Malamud became a devoted writer when he became aware of the Holocaust.


Featured Reader Wanted!

Featured Reader

– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.


Innocent man framed for boy’s murder by pre-Revolutionary Russian anti-Semites


Deputy Warden’s body search.


Fictionalized story of Russian Jew Menahem Mendel Beilis who was accused of ritual murder of a Christian boy to gather blood for preparation of Passover matzo.


352 pages or 10 listening hours. Compelling; you might just read it in one or two sittings.


Universal suffering and joy. What happens to you happens to all of us.


Anti-Semitism perpetrated by the Black Hundreds, including pogrom -- ethnic massacre. Religious persecution including wrongful imprisonment and torture. Corrupt Russian justice system, despicable anti-Semite witnesses, brutal ruling class.


Three courses, starting with Yakov’s road trip food: part of a cold boiled potato, half a cucumber sprinkled with salt, piece of sour black bread. Next you’re in the home of people you should not trust enjoying tea and Viennese rolls with raspberry and peach jams and butter. Vodka with orange peel chasers. You’re going to pass on the watery prison guel from a common pot with roach and mice protein as well as the better quality although poisoned food.


“If the fixer stands accused of murdering one of their children, so does the rest of the tribe.”


An apartment that has recently been replastered and papered. Decorate with Yakov reminders like a few uncounted bricks, some fixer tools and a bible. Put a pile of newspaper strips in the bathroom.


React to Yakov’s reaction to Spinoza: “If the state acts in ways that are abhorrent to human nature it’s the lesser evil to destroy it.”
Talk about Yakov’s dreams and fantasy encounter with the Tsar.
What do the women in the novel -- Raisel, Zina, Marfa – have in common?
What kind of boy was Zhenia, really? Why was that sort of child cast as victim?
Discuss the martyrs in the novel.
Compare Russia while the country was ruled byTsar Nicholas II (1894-1917) to Russia under Putin.
Compare QAnon beliefs to what some people believed about Jews in the novel.
How does becoming a public figure change a Yakov’s fate?
Compare a U.S. death row prisoner’s experience to Yakov’s.
Only reference to U.S. in the novel relates to opportunity and night school for adults. Review Yakov’s self-education and trajectory.
Yakov wants “a full stomach now and then, a job, education, to know what’s going on in the world.” Where does and doesn’t that happen in today’s world and why?


When you get invited to participate on a jury, say yes. Meanwhile attend a criminal trial. Take a tour of prison that is not currently operational, such as Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Consider volunteering for the Department of Corrections.


1984 film version of Malamud’s “The Natural” and 2005 film “The Tenants”


Malamud’s 1971 “The Tenants” and 1957 “The Assistant”
“Ethics” published in 1677 by philosopher Benedict de Spinoza; see if you can understand it all; Yakov could not.

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