Bernard Malamud God’s Grace.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 223 pages, $13.50

For thirty years, since the publication of The Natural (1952), Bernard Malamud has communicated the peculiar blend of hope and despair, of grit and helplessness, that typified the reaction of East European Jewish immigrants to the urban, racially mixed, lower-middle-class neighborhoods of America. Only I. B. Singer, when not conjuring dybbuks in a Polish shtetl, compares with him in yielding up the bittersweet subsistence of the honest, confused Jew besieged by improbable events and incomprehensible values. Malamud’s gift, and it is no small one, has always been his ability to depict the real world in a fabulistic light, so that we question neither the truthfulness of the fable nor the fancifulness of the reality. This is the Malamud of The Magic Barrel (1958) and Rembrandt’s...


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