Philip Roth and the Jews

Alan Coop­er
  • From the Publisher
April 26, 2012
In a style rich­ly acces­si­ble to the gen­er­al read­er, this book presents Roth’s sec­u­lar Jew­ish­ness, with its own mys­ter­ies and humor, as most rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Amer­i­can Jew­ish expe­ri­ence. Thir­ty years into his career as a writer, Philip Roth remains known to most read­ers as a self-hat­ing Jew or a flawed would-be com­ic. Philip Roth and the Jews shows Roth the iro­nist, the mas­ter of absur­di­ty, for whom twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca and mod­ern Jew­ish his­to­ry res­onate with each oth­er’s sig­nal accom­plish­ments and anx­i­eties. Roth’s ego­ism” is a per­sona, an abashed moral­ist dis­com­fit­ed by the world. Coop­er shows that in the Jew­ish” works Roth has tak­en the pulse of Amer­i­ca and read the pres­sures of the world. Mod­ernism, the uni­ver­sal tug for indi­vid­ual sov­er­eign­ty and against trib­al def­i­n­i­tion, is an issue every­where. Roth’s own odyssey of betray­al, loss, and return-the pat­tern of the Jew­ish writer in the last 200 years-is so shaped by his ori­gins that Roth has car­ried his home and neigh­bor­hood into the cor­ners of the earth and thus nev­er left them.

Discussion Questions