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. He twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He 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." Roth received PEN's two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. 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. He died in 2018.
Roth at his most erotic, which really says something. A sixtyish cultural critic who has never managed to commit he's still enjoying the sexual revolution gets all tangled up in an affair with the voluptuous young Consuela. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Eros and mortality are the central themes of Roth's frank, unsparing and curious new novella. It's curious not only because of its short form (new for Roth), but because he seems to have assumed the mantle of Saul Bellow, writing pages of essay-like exposition on contemporary social phenomena and advancing the narrative through introspection rather than dialogue. The protagonist is again David Kepesh (of The Breast and The Professor of Desire), who left his wife and son during the sexual revolution vowing to indulge his erotic needs without encumbrance. Kepesh is now an eminent 70-year-old cultural critic and lecturer at a New York college, recalling a devastating, all-consuming affair he had eight years before with voluptuous 24-year-old Consuela Castillo, a graduate student and daughter of a prosperous Cuban ‚migr‚ family. From the beginning, Kepesh is oppressed by the "unavoidable poignancy" of their age difference, and he suffers with the jealous knowledge that this liaison will likely be his last; even when locked in the throes of sexual congress, a death's head looms in his imagination. The end of the affair casts him into a long depression. When Consuela contacts him again eight years later, on the New Year's Eve of the millennium, their reunion is doubly ironic in the Roth tradition. Consuela has devastating news about her body, and it's obvious that retribution is at hand for the old libertine. Roth's candor about an elderly man's consciousness that he's "a dying animal" (from the Yeats poem) is unsentimental, and his descriptions of the lovers' erotic acts push the envelope in at least one scene involving menstruation. The novella is as brilliantly written, line by line, as any book in Roth's oeuvre, and it's bound to be talked about with gusto. (May 18) Forecast: Roth's audience is faithful, and the erotic explicitness of this book may attract other readers who have not tackled the author's longer novels. But his longtime refusal to do talk shows or give interviews will as usual limit publicity efforts, and it remains to be seen whether such a narrowly focused story will sell with the rapidity of Roth's longer novels. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"[A] disturbing masterpiece." --The New York Review of Books
"Sorrowful, sexy, elegant . . . [A] distinguished addition to
Roth's increasingly remarkable literary career." -San Francisco
Chronicle "Roth is a mesmerizing writer, whose very language has
the vitality of a living organism." -The Los Angeles Times
"No one can come close to Roth's comic genius and breadth of moral imperative." -The Boston Globe