The Assistant

The Assistant

Book - 2003 | Farrar, Straus and Giroux paperback edition.
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The Assistant , Bernard Malamud's second novel, originally published in 1957, is the story of Morris Bober, a grocer in postwar Brooklyn, who "wants better" for himself and his family. First two robbers appear and hold him up; then things take a turn for the better when broken-nosed Frank Alpine becomes his assistant. But there are complications: Frank, whose reaction to Jews is ambivalent, falls in love with Helen Bober; at the same time he begins to steal from the store.

Like Malamud's best stories, this novel unerringly evokes an immigrant world of cramped circumstances and great expectations. Malamud defined the immigrant experience in a way that has proven vital for several generations of writers.

"His best novel . . . The Assistant is as tightly written as a prose poem." --Morris Dickstein in Leopards in the Temple: The Transformation of American Fiction 1945-1970

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.
Edition: Farrar, Straus and Giroux paperback edition.
ISBN: 9780374504847
Branch Call Number: MAL
Characteristics: xi, 246 pages ;,22 cm


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Oct 29, 2015

This 1957 novel depicts the story of a NYC Jewish shopkeeper operating a failing business in a gentile neighborhood. Morris Bober, our poor shopkeeper lives daily on the brink of bankruptcy when along comes “The Assistant” to help run the shop. “The Assistant may be skimming some money from the till and soon he has eyes on Bobers’ daughter, which would be another kind of theft that Bober would have to suffer. We view this all in the context of 20th century Jewish big city culture. Rated as one of the best 100 novels rated in Time Magazine since 1923.

multcolib_central Jul 24, 2014

The storytelling is masterfully and the intensity is nearly Russian. The protagonist in this brilliant novel is haunted by guilt and seeks redemption for crime which he can't help but commit. There's a great deal going on in this powerful tale.

Dec 20, 2013

Bernard Malamud was part of the wave of post-war East Coast Jewish writers (Roth, Bellow, Mailer), but his reputation has been eclipsed by his contemporaries. He is probably best know because he wrote "The Natural," which became a movie. His second novel is a rather drab, social realist look at characters working in a store in NYC.


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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

When I don't feel hurt, I hope they bury me.

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