The Counterlife

The Counterlife

4.5 4
by Philip Roth
     
 

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The Counterlife is a novel unlike any that Philip Roth has written before, a book of astonishing 180-degree turns, a book of conflicting perspectives and points of view, and, by far, Roth's most radical work of fiction.

The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives

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Overview

The Counterlife is a novel unlike any that Philip Roth has written before, a book of astonishing 180-degree turns, a book of conflicting perspectives and points of view, and, by far, Roth's most radical work of fiction.

The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives to alter seemingly irreversible destinies. Every major character (and most of the minor ones) is investigating, debating, and arguing the possibility of remaking the future.
Illuminating these lives in transition and guiding us through all the landscapes, familiar and foreign, where these people are seeking self-transformation, is the mind of the novelist Nathan Zuckerman. His is the skeptical, enveloping intelligence that calculates the price that's paid in the struggle to change personal fortune and to reshape history.

Yet his is hardly the only voice. This is a novel in which speaking out with force and lucidity appears to be the imperative of every life. There is Henry, the forty-year-old New Jersey dentist, who risks a quintuple bypass operation in order to escape the coronary medication that renders him sexually impotent. There is Maria, the wellborn young Englishwoman, who invites the disdain of her family by marrying the American she knows will be lease acceptable in Gloucestershire. There is Lippmann, the Israeli settlement leader, who contends that "everything is possible for the Jew if only he does not give ground."

The action in The Counterlife ranges from a dentist's office in quiet suburban New Jersey to a genteel dining table in a tradition-bound English village, from a Christmas carol service in London's West End to a Sabbath evening celebration in a tiny desert settlement in Israel's occupied West Bank. Wherever they may find themselves, the characters of The Counterlife are tempted unceasingly by the prospect of an alternative existence that can reverse their fate.

The Counterlife was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
One of Roth's "Zuckerman" books, The Counterlife follows protagonist Nathan Zuckerman from New York to Israel to London. "Along the way, monologues, eulogies, letters, interviews, and conversations ponder Judaism and Zionism, the nature of personality, the competing claims of imagination and life, and sex" (LJ 2/15/87).
From the Publisher
"Magnificent...splendid.... I hope The Counterlife felt, as Mr. Roth wrote it, like a triumph, because that is certainly how it reads to me." —William Gass, The New York Times Book Review

"Roth is a comic genius.... In this book (wonderfully sharp, worryingly intense) he is an electrifier." —Martin Amis, The Atlantic

"No other writer combines such a surface of colloquial relaxation and even dishevelment with such a dense load of mediating intelligence.... Roth has never written more scrupulously or, in spots, more lovingly." —John Updike, The New Yorker

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466846418
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
356,484
File size:
526 KB

Meet the Author

Philip Roth was born in New Jersey in 1933. He studied literature at Bucknell University and the University of Chicago. His first book, Goodbye, Columbus, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1960. He has lived in Rome, London, Chicago, New York City, Princeton, and New England. Since 1955, he has been on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where is now Adjunct Professor of English. He is also General Editor of the Penguin Books series "Writers from the Other Europe." Recently he has been spending half of each year in Europe, traveling and writing.


Philip Roth was born in New Jersey in 1933. He studied literature at Bucknell University and the University of Chicago. His first book, Goodbye, Columbus, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1960. He has lived in Rome, London, Chicago, New York City, Princeton, and New England. Since 1955, he has been on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now Adjunct Professor of English. He is also General Editor of the Penguin Books series "Writers from the Other Europe." Recently he has been spending half of each year in Europe, traveling and writing.

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Brief Biography

Hometown:
Connecticut
Date of Birth:
March 19, 1933
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
Education:
B.A. in English, Bucknell University, 1954; M.A. in English, University of Chicago, 1955

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The Counterlife 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This it seems to me is one of Roth's best books.It is alive all the way. I would even want to say that his power of insight into characters and situations is so great as to make the work a ' perfection of brilliance'.But unfortunately the 'political Roth' is far too left for me. He does not understand deeply enough the meaning of Israel, especially in religious terms. His lack of Jewish education means he misses much of the meaning of Israel. Still he sees understands a lot, and when he is really into it writes more brilliantly than anyone else that I know of.