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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

The Magic Barrel - Bernard Malamud, Jhumpa Lahiri

This collection of short stories won the National Book Award in 1958. I don't think as many people read Malamud now as they once did, and indeed I have several students who've never heard of his, which is a great pity.  These are beautiful stories of the Jewish immigrant experience, haunted by the Holocaust, poignant and full of struggle.  I know of few writers who capture the feeling of wanting what we cannot have, of wanting to be what we cannot be, which is at the heart of all dramatic fiction, better than Malamud.


There is a universality to these stories, although they are peopled almost exclusively with Jews, that I find lacking in contemporary fiction, which in comparison often seems clever but lacking heart.