By (author) Philip Roth
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American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Book DescriptionIn American Pastoral, Philip Roth gives us a novel of unqualified greatness that is an elegy for all the twentieth century's promises of prosperity, civic order, and domestic bliss. Roth's protagonist is Seymour 'Swede' Levov - a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father's Newark glove factory - comes of age in thriving, triumphant post-war America. And then one day in 1968, Swede's beautiful American luck deserts him. For Swede's adored daughter, Merry, has grown from a loving, quick-witted girl into a sullen, fanatical teenager - a teenager capable of an outlandishly savage act of political terrorism. And overnight Swede is wrenched out of the longed-for American pastoral and into the indigenous American berserk. Compulsively readable, propelled by sorrow, rage, and a deep compassion for its characters, this is Roth's masterpiece.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099771814
(198mm x 129mm x 27mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 21-Feb-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
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This fourth volume of The Library of America's definitive edition of Roth's collected works presents four novels that recount the story of budding American writer Nathan Zuckerman. Includes "The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman Unbound, The Anatomy Lesson," and "The Prague Orgy."
UK Kirkus Review » The author's alter ego, Nathan Zuckermann, takes a back seat to narrate the story of Seymour 'the Swede' Levov. a blonde-haired blue-eyed (but, of course, Jewish) family man with the most unRothian yearning for a settled life. This being a Roth novel, anyone who longs for a simple, innocent existence free from the turbulence and hate of the American century, is asking for trouble and the Swede gets it in spades; the Eisenhower 1950s turn into the weird 60s and America goes to pieces. The Swede's wife cracks up, his daughter, the anger-fuelled Merry, puts a bomb into a post office, kills a passer-by and goes on the run, all is madness and despair. Roth has never written better as he rages against the slide into nihilism and permissiveness that has characterised life in America in the last 30 years. Reading Roth is not a comfortable experience but it has never been more exhilarating. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Roth's elegiac and affecting new novel, his 18th, displays a striking reversal of form - and content - from his most recent critical success, the Portnoyan Sabbath's Theater (1995). Its narrator, however, is a familiar Rothian figure: writer Nathan Zuckerman (of The Ghost Writer, et al.) - and in case you're wondering whether he still seems to be his author's alter ego, Nathan is now in his early 60s, recovering from both cancer surgery and a longtime affair with an English actress. Essentially retired, Nathan is approached by a high-school classmate's older brother - and the well-remembered hero of his youth: Seymour "Swede" Levov, once a blue-eyed athletic and moral paragon who strode through life with ridiculous ease, now nearing 70 and crushed by outrageous misfortunes. Swede asks his help writing a tribute to his late father, and soon thereafter dies himself. Piqued by the enigma of a seemingly perfect life (superb health, a successful family business, marriage to a former beauty queen) inexplicably gone wrong, Zuckerman "dream[s] a realistic chronicle" that reconstructs Swede's life - compounded of information gleaned from others who knew him, and centering in the 1960s when Swede's life began to unravel. His only daughter Meredith ("Merry") had rebelled against her parents' and her culture's complacency, protested against the war in Vietnam, claimed responsibility for a terrorist bombing in which innocent people were killed, and gone "underground" as a fugitive. Most of the scenes Zuckerman/Roth imagines, therefore, are intensely emotional conversations in which the conflicting claims of social solidarity and individual integrity are debated with pained immediacy. Here, and in more conventionally expository authorial passages, meditativeness and discursiveness predominate over drama. Nevertheless, passion seethes through the novel's pages. Some of the best pure writing Roth has done. And Swede Levov's anguished cry "What the hell is wrong with doing things right?" may be remembered as one of the classic utterances in American fiction. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Philip Roth
In 1997, Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians' Prize for "the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004." Recently Roth received PEN's two most prestigious prizes: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award 'for a body of work...of enduring originality and consummate craftmanship' and in 2007 the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for achievement in American Fiction, given to a writer whose 'scale of achievement over a sustained career...places him or her in the highest rank of American literature.' Roth is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. The last of the eight volumes is scheduled for publication in 2013.
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