The Tenants: A Novel (FSG Classics) [Bernard Malamud, Aleksandar Hemon] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. With a new introduction by. In commemoration of the centenary of Bernard Malamud’s birth (April 26, ), FSG’s Work in Progress will be celebrating this icon of. Complete summary of Bernard Malamud’s The Tenants. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Tenants.

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The Tenants by Bernard Malamud bernardd. With a new introduction by Aleksandar Hemon In The TenantsBernard Malamud brought his unerring sense of modern urban life to bear on the conflict between blacks and Jews then inflaming his native Brooklyn. The sole tenant in a rundown tenement, Henry Lesser is struggling to finish a novel, but his solitary pursuit of the sublime grows complicated when Willie Spearm With a new introduction by Aleksandar Hemon In The TenantsBernard Malamud brought tenantts unerring sense of modern urban life to bear on the conflict between blacks and Jews then inflaming his native Brooklyn.

The sole tenant in a rundown tenement, Tensnts Lesser is struggling to finish a novel, but his solitary pursuit of the sublime grows complicated when Willie Spearmint, a black writer ambivalent toward Jews, moves into the building.

Henry and Willie are genants rivals and unwilling neighbors, and their uneasy peace is disturbed by the presence of Willie’s white girlfriend Tenabts and the landlord Levenspiel’s attempts to evict both men and demolish the building. This novel’s conflict, current then, is perennial now; it reveals the slippery nature of the human condition, and the human capacity malxmud violence and undoing. Paperbackpages.

Published September 18th by Farrar, Straus and Giroux first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Tenantsplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Sep 18, Chrissie rated it it was ok Shelves: I keep thinking about the book. Two things I want to add. Unfortunately, other themes dilute the message! The abrupt, brutal and exaggerated ending, which I dislike, bernnard in this direction.

Malamud probably wanted to close the book with a bang, but I found the ending melodramatic and unrealistic. What is its message? I am not quite sure.

Here is the set-up. A thirty-six-year-old author, Harry Lesser, lives in a tenement which the landlord, Levenspiel, wants to demolish. The tenement is to be replaced by more profitable office buildings. He cannot throw Lesser out because of rent controlled housing regulations. Levenspiel offers Lesser larger and larger amounts of money if he will just pick himself up and leave.


He insists that he cannot alter his writing routine; he can only finish the novel where he had begun writing it. He has been working on the novel for the last nine years. I will say right off the bat that I find this reasoning insane. The huge sum of money offered if he moves would provide him with much better accommodations, accommodations more conductive to writing.

The tenement has no water or heat, except for those short intervals after he complains. Toilets do not function.

Lesser is the sole tenant remaining, until the day he hears someone plonking away at a typewriter. This we learn is Tenabts Spearmint. In prison Willie came to love books.

The Tenants (novel) – Wikipedia

Now he is determined to write about black power and resistance. Lesser is white and Jewish, as is the landlord. There arises a rivalry between Lesser and Willie, not only over writing but a girl too. Willie has a white girlfriend. And tenwnts being writers, a friendship of sorts develops. There is the layout of the story.

We watch what happens. What is delivered is a messy mix of assorted topics.

The Tenants

Wiki says that when Malamud was asked what “set off” the writing of his novel, he replied: I thought I’d say a word. What is the underlying message of the book?!

That is what I want to know. The alternatives are not properly followed through. In my view, the art and struggle of writing is the theme I would say the book is most thf. Neither do I like the writing. First of all, the language is crude. One might argue that it must be this way given the people about which the story is written. With this I agree and have thus grudgingly given the book two rather than one star.

Secondly, the prose is choppy. Thirdly, there are sections where one word is repeated over and over again. Is repetition of one word the best way for an author to make himself understood?

I hope you hear my intended sarcasm. If a book must use sordid language to accurately describe events and characters, then at least the message to be conveyed must be clear. The audiobook is narrated by L. In the dialogues one cannot hear who is speaking. This makes following the story sometimes confusing. The words are clearly spoken and the speed with which the story is read are fine.

For me the narration performance is merely OK. It should not be that hard for a professional narrator to distinguish between an angry, down and out, Black seeking revenge, a Jewish landlord and a white, educated, Jewish author having two published books to his name, currently working on his third. View all 3 comments. That was almost ten years ago. So let’s come to the present. The story centers on Harry Lesser, a novelist who has seen success with one novel, followed by a sophomore malammud.


For the past ten years he has been laboring over his third novel, said to be his best. But things seem to keep getting ghe the way of him finishing this novel. His landlord, Levenspiel, wants to sell his building; in fact, Harry tennats the only resident in the building.

The other residents have moved after receiving lucrative payoffs. Harry is a creature of habit. His novel was started here; it must be finished here.

Just when Harry begins to find his groove, Willie Spearmint enters his life, squatting in an abandoned room downstairs. A past junky with a penchant for violence, Willie, too, is a writer looking for a place to free his inspiration.

Willie is trying to write the great black novel. His disdain for whites Jews especially intensifies with the novel and culminates with a horrific conclusion. Malamud’s social commentary throughout the novel had me shaking my head in disbelief. I wasn’t born in the 60s, and only arrived with 6 months left in the 70s. I have never really seen the level of racial intolerance as Malamud conveys.

But Harry cannot allow a fellow tenaants to wallow in their own creativity, so he begins the arduous task of mentoring Willie, even if this means being lectured by Willie about what being Black or White truly means.

Willie seems to think he has all the answers. The relationship starts off rocky — Willie has a difficult time accepting constructive criticism.

For a good chunk of the novel, we are allowed access to what a writer thinks and does when preparing a scene or a sentence or a word. This part becomes a bit much, but is handled deftly by Malamud’s technical skill and storytelling abilities. When Willie and Harry’s relationship progresses, Willie brings Harry into his circle of friends. They are an unsavory crew that only bolsters the racial tension of NYC in the 60s.

Most of the characters are two dimensional, nothing more than dressing for set pieces. But even as unrealized characters, they add to the story. When Harry beds one of the crew’s lady, after being invited to a party, Willie saves Harry by playing a game of insults. One person must out-insult the other. Basically, this is yo-mamma jokes beefed up on steroids.