The Human Stain
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The Human Stain

3.86 (28,615 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Philip Roth's brilliant conclusion to his eloquent trilogy of post-war America - a magnificent successor to American Pastoral and I Married a Communist

It is 1998, the year America is plunged into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town a distinguished classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues allege that he is a racist. The charge is unfounded, the persecution needless, but the truth about Silk would astonish even his most virulent accuser.

Coleman Silk has a secret, one which has been kept for fifty years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman. It is Zuckerman who comes upon Silk's secret, and sets out to unearth his former buried life, piecing the biographical fragments back together. This is against backdrop of seismic shifts in American history, which take on real, human urgency as Zuckerman discovers more and more about Silk's past and his futile search for renewal and regeneration.

`An extraordinary book - bursting with rage, humming with ideas, full of dazzling sleights of hand'- Sunday Telegraph
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 24mm | 266g
  • VINTAGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New ed
  • 0
  • 0099282194
  • 9780099282198
  • 12,072

Review Text

"One of his very best... There are passages of such sustained brilliance here that I found myself going over them again and again in gaping disbelief. An extraordinary book - bursting with rage, humming with ideas, full of dazzling sleights of hand"
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Review quote

"The Human Stain pulses with the strengths that make Roth a prime contender for the status of the most impressive novelist now writing in and about America" * Sunday Times * "An extraordinary book - bursting with rage, humming with ideas, full of dazzling sleights of hand'" * Sunday Telegraph * "One of his very best... There are passages of such sustained brilliance here that I found myself going over them again and again in gaping disbelief. An extraordinary book - bursting with rage, humming with ideas, full of dazzling sleights of hand" * Sunday Telegraph * "A novel so furious in its telling, with a plot so intricate in its construction that it is infused with a kind of diabolic joy. A masterpiece" * Mail on Sunday * "[A] tender, shocking and incendiary story on the failure of the American dream refracted through the prism of race" -- Arifa Akbar * Guardian *
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About Philip Roth

Philip Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey on 19 March 1933. The second child of second-generation Americans, Bess and Herman Roth, Roth grew up in the largely Jewish community of Weequahic, a neighbourhood he was to return to time and again in his writing. After graduating from Weequahic High School in 1950, he attended Bucknell University, Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago, where he received a scholarship to complete his M.A. in English Literature.

In 1959, Roth published Goodbye, Columbus - a collection of stories, and a novella - for which he received the National Book Award. Ten years later, the publication of his fourth novel, Portnoy's Complaint, brought Roth both critical and commercial success, firmly securing his reputation as one of America's finest young writers. Roth was the author of thirty-one books, including those that were to follow the fortunes of Nathan Zuckerman, and a fictional narrator named Philip Roth, through which he explored and gave voice to the complexities of the American experience in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.

Roth's lasting contribution to literature was widely recognised throughout his lifetime, both in the US and abroad. Among other commendations he was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the International Man Booker Prize, twice the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award, and presented with the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal by Presidents Clinton and Obama, respectively.

Philip Roth died on 22 May 2018 at the age of eighty-five having retired from writing six years previously.
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Rating details

28,615 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 28% (8,116)
4 40% (11,469)
3 23% (6,600)
2 6% (1,778)
1 2% (652)

Our customer reviews

The mirror that Philip Roth holds to American life shows faking, playing rolls, pretending and hiding one's identity. Silk Coleman as it seems is a famous and well known Jewish professor while he grew up in a black family and decided to pass for a member of less problematic population to overcome his social background. The end of his life is marked by an affair with much younger and unsuitable woman Faunia with problematic past so the narrator leaves unsolved if their final car accident was due to distraction or caused by her disturbed ex-husband. The novel shows ordinary people tortured by suppressed complexes and never said secrets, psychical troubles of a never healed Vietnam soldier and tortures he imposes to his wife, narrow minded and gossiping Coleman's colleges and is testing American morality in the year of disturbing but quickly forgotten Clinton-Levinski affair.show more
by Nada BN
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