I like the description Wikipedia gives of Malamud’s writing style:
Malamud wrote slowly, and carefully, and was not prolific.
Malamud’s stories are not filled with cryptic, complicated analogies. Instead they are straight forward. Malamud wished to tell a story. Malamud wanted to recreate to the best of his ability the struggles of a class rarely recognized.
Malamud’s goal is to realistically portray the struggles of immigrants. And that is what drives forward his stories.
Calvino’s emblem for exactitude was a crystal because it refracts light. My emblem for exactitude was a compass because it guides you. Malamud’s The Assistant is a great example of both of these emblems.
The Assistant is reflecting the lives of immigrants to the reader. Rarely do we have pity for someone we might pass on the street, or no very little about. However, when we learn more about lives, their struggles, and who they are our concern for them grows. By realistically telling the story of a fictional family, Malamud is creating awareness about the struggles of Jewish Immigrants in the ’60s. Just a crystal precisely refracts light, so does Malamud reflect the lives of immigrants.
Just as I originally said, the compass not only guides you, but it is a source of information. Malamud’s novel exactly guides you right where he wants you. At the end of the novel, despite Frank’s deceit throughout the novel, you are happy that he has put aside his antisemitism and actually decided to convert to Judaism. Malamud includes facts not just about the struggles and day-to-day lives of immigrants but also creates sympathy for them as you read the novel.