Book for May 2007
Group 1
Does Roth's new novel top or even match the stunning accomplishment of his previous one, the best-selling and award-winning The Plot against America (2004)? It is shorter in length and narrower in scope. It is the portrait of an ordinary man--his novel's title is apt--who accomplishes nothing extraordinary. Strict chronology is set aside as various episodes from the past and the present jostle for center stage. The motif of death followed this man throughout his life, beginning in boyhood, and with the advent of middle age, the frailty of the flesh, in both sexual and physical terms, is increasingly apparent to him.
Despite its shortness in length and relative narrowness in scope, this novel speaks eloquently about life's unfulfillments, about making adjustments if the unfolding of one's life doesn't follow the original plan. Roth continues exercising his career-defining, clear-eyed, intelligent vision of how the psychology of families works. In The Plot against America, we saw how a family reacts to external forces; here, the reaction is to a family's internal circumstances. Perhaps, then, more readers will find this lean, poignant novel more relevant to themselves.
About the Author
Philip Roth
(March 19, 1933 – May 22, 2018) was an American novelist. He gained fame with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of Jewish-American life that earned him a National Book Award. In 1969 he became a major celebrity with the publication of the controversial Portnoy's Complaint, the humorous and sexually explicit psychoanalytical monologue of "a lust-ridden, mother-addicted young Jewish bachelor," filled with "intimate, shameful detail, and coarse, abusive language."

Roth's books were twice awarded the National Book Award, twice the National Book Critics Circle award, and three times the PEN/Faulkner Award. He received a Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 novel, American Pastoral, which featured his best-known character, Nathan Zuckerman, the subject/narrator of many other of Roth's novels. His 2001 novel The Human Stain, another Zuckerman novel, was awarded the United Kingdom's WH Smith Literary Award for the best book of the year. His fiction, set frequently in Newark, New Jersey, is known for its intensely autobiographical character, for philosophically and formally blurring the distinction between reality and fiction, for its "supple, ingenious style," and for its provocative explorations of Jewish and American identity.

Other books we've read by the same author:

American Pastoral
The Dying Animal