The First Seven Years Criticism

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With its Jewish immigrant characters living in dingy surroundings and burdened by the weight of life's cares, "The First Seven Years" is a representative Malamud story. It has been highly regarded ever since its publication in Malamud's collection of stories, The Magic Barrel (1958). For example, William Peden commented in the New York Times, "[Malamud] possesses a gift for characterization that is often breathtaking. His lonely shoemakers, despondent graduate students and sickness ridden shopkeepers are brilliantly individualized."

The story has stood the test of time. It seems to have been among Malamud's own favorites, since he included it in his selection of twenty-five stories for The Stories of Bernard Malamud (1983). This volume was favorably reviewed by Robert Alter in the New York Times, who selected "The First Seven Years" as one of five Malamud stories "which . . . will be read as long as anyone continues to care about American fiction...

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This section contains 285 words
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Short Stories for Students
The First Seven Years from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.