Generally books are used as an opportunity for escapism, to spend a few hours away from reality. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud is the opposite of this, taking the reader on a journey to Old Russia of 100 years ago, with its intolerance, cruelty, and corruption. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, one of the most powerful of the 20th century, is no easy ride!.
The Fixer retells a Jewish man's story in Russia during a peak of anti-Semitism in the early 1900s. Yakov Bok's wife has left him after four years and he is struggling to live working as a fixer. He decides to move from his small town to Kiev, a city supposedly replete with jobs. Yakov struggles living in his small apartment in the Jewish Quarters and becomes terribly restless. Eventually he wanders into the Russian Quarters and discovers a man suffocating in the snow, a man wearing the symbol of a major anti-Semitic organization. Reluctantly Yakov saves the man and as a reward the man gives Yakov a job, unaware of Yakov's true religion. Yakov forms a friendship with the man's family and the man, fully trusting Yakov, gives him a job at the factory he owns. At the factory some workers begin to dislike him due to his ability to work effortlessly but to also get each job well done. So when a murdering of a Christian child occurs, the factory workers declare Yakov guilty and weave a story including a few coincidental objects near his house. The Russian public embrace this opportunity to place blame on an easy victim and send Yakov to jail. .
The Fixer is based on a true story. It depicts Yakov's struggle in prison, yet also how he continuously fought and how, despite numerous betrayals, illnesses and extra punishments due to his religion, Yakov was barely ever uncertain about staying alive and sticking to the truth, his innocence.
I recommend this book for basically any age but only for the select few who are mature enough to be able to understand and accept the difficult topics brought up in the book.