The Fixer ~ 4 out of 5 stars
Sometimes I read book that I instantly love, and sometimes that’s not the case. When I read The Fixer I wasn’t really impressed at first. The story follows the life of Yakov Bok, a Jewish man living in Tsarist Russia during a highpoint of anti-Semitism. He is blamed for the murder of a Russian boy and sent to prison awaiting his papers of criminal charges to go to court. This process is dragged out by the system for almost three years. In that time Yakov is treated horrifically in the prison.
This is the main reason I disliked reading this book. The pain and inhuman conditions Yakov experiences are hard to read. They are written well and graphically to fully express this situation. While it was unpleasant it was also eye-opening. The man is not a very religious person with few people he cared for, and yet he persists in voicing his innocence and continues to stay alive.
While this book was hard to read I am immensely glad I did. It wasn’t until I read the introduction by Jonathan Safran Foer that I fully appreciated it. He opens with the difference between good book and great books.
“What’s the difference between a good book and a great book? Good books are engrossing, insightful, and new. Good books are sometimes better -in the commonly used senses of readability and craftsmanship- than great books. Great books are what our world needs, but good books are what our culture desires, so good books are what most authors, most of the time, aspire to write.”
His message is rather amazing, good books are enjoyable, great books are hard and very impactful.
In the case of The Fixer the reason this book is so crucial is it sheds like on a subject that isn’t talk about enough. This novel is based on a true case of the time when a Jewish man was wrongfully accused of killing a Russian child. He was eventually released, but the damage had already been done.
Foer goes on to express the lesson in humanity in The Fixer. “While The Fixer isn’t a book about morality, it is a moral book. That is, rather than offering a flimsy directive, it presents the reader with a forceful question: Why aren’t you doing anything?” In a sense the title refers to each reader. What are you doing to help fight the injustice around you. It is everywhere and we are all part of it.
Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1966. Print.