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The ghost writer
Philip Roth
Adult Fiction ROTH

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"Goodbye, Columbus' is a first book but it is not the book of a beginner. Unlike those of us who come howling into the world, blind and bare, Mr. Roth appears with nails, hair, and teeth, speaking coherently. At 26 he is skillful, witty, and energetic and performs like a virtuoso"---so wrote Saul Bellow when Philip Roth made a loud entry onto the literary scene with Goodbye, Columbus (1960), a novella and short stories that won the 1960 National Book Award. Roth, born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, attended the public schools of that city and went on to Bucknell University before receiving his M.A. from the University of Chicago and publishing stories about contemporary Jewish life in such prestigious literary magazines as, Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Commentary. Of Letting Go (1962), a novel about young university teachers in the 1950s, the Atlantic said that "the sharply observant qualities of his first book have been expanded and enriched; he has become more probing, tentative, complex"; and "When She Was Good," his story of a gentile girl of the Midwest who in striving for moral perfection destroys her family and ultimately herself, was described by Raymond Rosenthal in the New Leader: "With a simplicity and modesty that are in the end lethal, Roth has written the most violently satiric book about American life since Evelyn Waugh's "The Loved One."' The bestselling Portnoy's Complaint (1969) caused a greater stir than any other novel of its time. Told in the form of a confession by Alexander Portnoy to his psychiatrist Dr. Spielvogel, this outrageous novel centers around the character of Alexander's archetypal Jewish mother. Virtually the apotheosis of the American Jewish novel, Portnoy's Complaint seems almost to have killed off the form it represents, and even Roth himself has been hard put to match or surpass this blackest of comedies. Our Gang (1971) is a clever political satire directed at President Nixon and his pre-Watergate associates, but those prominent targets of Roth's venomous scorn seem pale and feeble when compared with the formidable mother in Portnoy's Complaint. The Breast (1972) finds Roth rather pathetically groping for a subject equally spectacular. oth has continued to produce novels at the rate of about one every two years, but none has come close to matching the impact of Portnoy's Complaint . In fact, Roth has linked together several of his recent works by means of a central character named Nathan Zuckerman, who seems to be Philip Roth looking back on his literary career and wondering where he goes from there. Zuckerman is introduced in My Life as a Man (1974) and takes the central role in The Ghost Writer (1979), Zuckerman Unbound (1981), and The Anatomy Lesson (1983). In addition to the Zuckerman saga, Roth has produced several independent novels. Recent work, such as Deception (1991), deals further with the interplay of truth and fiction in the "author's" life. In his most recent work, Patrimony: A True Story (1991), winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award, Roth recounts his father's illness and death. Roth has also taken an active interest in the work of Eastern European writers, such as Milan Kundera, (see Vol. 2) and has helped bring their work to the West's attention. (Bowker Author Biography) Philip Roth was born on March 19, 1933, in Newark, New Jersey. He attended Rutgers University for one year before transferring to Bucknell University where he completed a B.A. in English with highest honors. Roth received an M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1955 and taught there briefly. Roth made an auspicious debut when his first book, Goodbye, Columbus, received the National Book Award in 1960, and since then he has been among the most critically-acclaimed contemporary writers. He won National Book Critic Circle Awards in 1987 for his novel The Counterlife, and again in 1992 for Patrimony: A True Story, an emotionally unsparing memoir that chronicles the death of his father. Operation Shylock: A Confession won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1993 and was chosen by Time magazine as the best American novel of that year. He won a second National Book Award in 1995 for Sabbath's Theater, and his twenty-second book, American Pastoral, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. His most recent novel is entitled, Nemesis. Roth's novels are distinguished by a caustic humor and sexual frankness that can mask their more serious underpinnings-- the struggle with one's family and religious community. Many critics have called attention to the pseudo-autobiographical nature of his works, especially the novels featuring his alter-ego protagonist, Nathan Zuckerman (The Ghostwriter, Zuckerman Unbound, The Anatomy Lesson, and The Counterlife.) Roth's turbulent, 18-year relationship with the British actress Claire Bloom is recounted in her 1996 memoir, Leaving a Doll's House. Roth has lived in Connecticut since 1972. (Bowker Author Biography) Philip Roth's work has been acclaimed around the world. His most recent novels are "The Human Stain", published by Houghton Mifflin in 2000; "I Married a Communist" (1999), winner of the Ambassador Award of the English-Speaking Union; "American Pastoral" (1997), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction; & "Sabbath's Theater" (1995), winner of the National Book Award. Previous award-winning works include "Patrimony" (1991), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; "Operation Shylock" (1993), winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award; "The Counterlife" (1986), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; & "Goodbye, Columbus" (1959), his first book, winner of the National Book Award. In 1998 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. (Publisher Provided)

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main characters Nathan Zuckerman
Age: 23
Graduate of the University of Chicago; had four stories published; hurt his family with his writing; infatuated with the Great Books; visits his reclusive idol, E. I. Lonoff; attempts to confront his life and work; committed to his destiny as a writer.

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