Bernard Malamud (April 26, 1914 – March 18, 1986) was an author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Malamud attended Erasmus Hall High School. He received his B.A. degree from City College of New York in 1936. In 1942, he obtained a Master's degree from Columbia University, writing a thesis on Thomas Hardy. He was excused from military service in World War II because he was the sole support of his widowed mother. He first worked for the Bureau of the Census in Washington D.C., and then taught English in New York, mostly high school night classes for adults.
Starting in 1949, Malamud taught four sections of freshman composition each semester at Oregon State University (OSU), an experience fictionalized in his 1961 novel A New Life. Because he lacked the Ph.D., he was not allowed to teach literature courses, and for a number of years his rank was that of instructor. In 1961, he left OSU to teach creative writing at Bennington College, a position he held until retirement. In 1967, he was made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Malamud completed his first novel in 1948, but later burned the manuscript. His first published novel was The Natural (1952), which has become one of his best remembered and most symbolic works. His second novel, The Assistant (1957), set in New York and drawing on Malamud's own childhood. In 1967, his novel The Fixer, about anti-semitism in Tsarist Russia, won the both the National Book Award for Fiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His other novels include Dubin's Lives, a powerful evocation of middle age which uses biography to recreate the narrative richness of its protagonists' lives, and The Tenants, an arguably meta-narrative on Malamud's own writing and creative struggles, which, set in New York, deals with racial issues and the emergence of African American literature in the American 1970s landscape.
Malamud is also renowned for his short stories, often oblique allegories set in a dreamlike urban ghetto of immigrant Jews. He published his first stories in 1943, "Benefit Performance" in Threshold and "The Place Is Different Now" in American Preface. In the early 1950s, his stories began appearing in Harper's Bazaar, Partisan Review, and Commentary. The Magic Barrel was his first published collection of short stories (1958) and his first winner of his first National Book Award for Fiction. Other well-known stories included in the collection are: The Last Mohican, Angel Levine, Idiots First, and The Mourners.