CORVALLIS, Ore. – A first-edition copy of a book often listed as one of the greatest sports novels has been donated to Oregon State University Libraries’ special collection of author Bernard Malamud.
An acclaimed novelist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Malamud was on the OSU faculty for a dozen years.
The inscribed first edition copy of “The Natural” was donated by Howard Mills, who once owned Avocet Book Store in Corvallis. Mill is retired and now lives in Washington, but donated the book to OSU as a way to “give back” to the community. First editions of “The Natural” signed by Malamud are scarce and, depending upon condition, can bring upwards of $12,000 in the antiquarian book market.
OSU’s Valley Library has an extensive collection on Malamud, but this donation of the first printing of his first published novel fills what once was a gaping hole in the collection. Malamud (1914-1986), a major American novelist and short story writer, taught at OSU from 1949-1961. He received a Pulitzer Prize for “The Fixer” in 1966 and two National Book Awards.
The Malamud Papers include an assortment of personal correspondence relating to Malamud's tenure as professor and writer at OSU. In addition, the collection features several boxes of newspaper clippings, as well as signed first editions and published translations of his books.
Cliff Mead, head of Special Collections at the Valley Library, said OSU has one of the largest Malamud collections in the country, second only to the one at the Library of Congress.
“He is considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest Jewish-American novelists, right up there with Philip Roth and Saul Bellow,” Mead said. “This donation will greatly enhance our collection, and will be a boon to researchers.”
According to Mead, Malamud wrote “The Natural” while he was an instructor at OSU in the 1950s. The book, which published in 1952, was No. 24 on Sports Illustrated magazine’s list of the top 100 sports books of all time. It was later made into a movie starring Robert Redford.
In addition to the first-edition of “The Natural,” Mills also donated two other Malamud books, a signed copy of “Magic Barrel,” and a copy of the first paperback edition of “The Natural.”