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This is a book about heroism, and it is a strange one. What makes Roy Hobbs potentially a hero is his immense natural gift for playing baseball. When he is quite young he already knows that he may become one of the great ones of the game, a player unmatched in his time. It is a long while before he finds a place on a major league team. His first attempt ends violently, at the hands of a crazy girl, and it is years before another chance comes. By that time he is not far off the age at which most first-class players retire. In a few short seasons, or never, he must make the towering reputation that he feels is his right. His brief career is both comic and tragic, and ends before he has proved what his stature might have been.
Bernard Malamud, one of America's most important novelists and short-story writers, was born in Brooklyn in 1914. He took his B.A. degree at the City College of New York and his M.A. at Colombia University. From 1940 to 1949 he taught in various New York schools, and then joined the staff of Oregon State University, where he stayed until 1961. Thereafter, he taught at Bennington State College, Vermont. His remarkable, and uncharacteristic first novel, The Natural, appeared in 1952. Malamud received international acclaim with the publication of The Assistant (1957, winner of the Rosenthal Award and the Daroff Memorial Award). His other works include The Magic Barrel (1958, winner of the National Book Award), Idiots First (1963, short stories), The Fixer (1966, winner of a second National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize), Pictures of Fidelman (1969), The Tenants (1971), Rembrandt's Hat (1973, short stories), Dubin's Lives (1979) and God's Grace (1982). Bernard Malamud was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, USA, in 1964, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1967, and won a major Italian award, the Premio Mondello, in 1985. Benard Malamud died in 1986.