My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Roth-en to the core

If you want an incisive analysis of the American political, social and cultural systems since World War II, you have two options. You can do a degree in American Studies or, the cheaper option, you can read a series of novels that American novelist Philip Roth published in quick succession towards the end of the 1990s.

There is an interview with Roth in today's Guardian. He's a miserable, grumpy bugger but his 'American Trilogy' is an astounding literary achievement. The books are I Married A Communist, The Human Stain and the magisterial American Pastoral, for which Roth won the Pulitzer Prize. In all these novels, Roth telescopes the narrative onto individuals effected by wider political and historical concerns. As the man has said himself, history doesn't stop at their doors. In fact, history barges in and it most certainly does not wipe its dirty feet beforehand.

I Married A Communist has the context of 1950s McCarthyism; Stain is set during the Clinton Impeachment; and Pastoral takes in the whole post-war period, particularly the counter-revolution of the 1960s. That last novel also prophetically deals with the topic that looks set to dominate American political discourse for a generation to come: terrorism.

His latest work, The Plot Against America, is a 'what-if?' that creates an alernative American history where Charles Lindburgh, aviation hero and Nazi sympathiser becomes President in 1940. I wasn't mad about this but he's still well worth checking out - it beats having to read newspapers MAJ class!

1 comment:

Seán Kenny said...

I've been meaning to read something by him for a while, actually. He's always compared to Salinger and Heller, whom I both like. Might pick up one of his books over the break.