Roth, Philip Nemesis

ISBN 13: 9780670064014

Nemesis

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A terrifying epidemic is raging, threatening the children of a New Jersey city with maiming, paralysis, even death. This is the startling theme of Nemesis, Philip Roth's wrenching new book: a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely knit, family-oriented community. Bucky Cantor, a vigorous, dutiful, 23-year-old playground director, javelin thrower, and weightlifter, is devoted to his charges and disappointed because his weak eyes have excluded him from serving in the war alongside his contemporaries. Focusing on Cantor's dilemmas as polio begins to ravage his playground—and on the everyday realities he faces—Roth leads us through every inch of emotion such a pestilence can breed: the fear, the panic, the anger, the bewilderment, the suffering, and the pain. And through this story runs the dark question that haunts Roth's most recent novels: what choices fatally shape a life? How powerless is each of us up against the force of circumstances?


 

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A terrifying epidemic is raging, threatening the children of the New Jersey city with maiming, paralysis, life-long disability, and even death. This is the startling theme of Roth's wrenching new book: a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and its effect on a closely knit community and its children. At the center of Nemesis is twenty-three year old playground director Bucky Cantor, an athlete who is devoted to his charges and disappointed that his weak eyes have excluded him from serving in the war. Focusing on Cantor's dilemmas as polio begins to ravage his playground -- and on the everyday realities he faces -- Roth leads us through every inch of emotion such a pestilence can breed: fear, panic, anger, bewilderment, suffering, and pain.

Moving between the smoldering streets of Newark and Indian Hill, a pristine children's summer camp high in the Poconos -- whose "mountain air was purified of all contaminants" -- Roth depicts a decent, energetic man with the best intentions struggling in his own private war against the epidemic. Roth is tenderly exact at every point about Cantor's passage into personal disaster and no less exact about the condition of childhood

About the Author:

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 received 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' Award 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 craftsmanship,” and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize.

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