American Pastoral by Philip Roth

84%

9 Critic Reviews

If this doesn’t add up to the The Great American Novel (which is coincidentally is the name of the book Roth wrote the year he turned forty), it gets pretty darn close.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall - of a strong, confident master of social equilibrium overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. Seymour "Swede" Levov - a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father's Newark glove factory - comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even the most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. With vigorous realism, Roth takes us back to the conflicts and violent transitions of the 1960s. This is a book about loving - and hating - America. It's a book about wanting to belong - and refusing to belong - to America. It sets the desire for an American pastoral - a respectable life of space, calm, order, optimism, and achievement - against the indigenous American Berserk.
 

About Philip Roth

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Philip Roth was born in New Jersey in 1933.  He studied literature at Bucknell University and the University of Chicago.  His first book, Goodbye, Columbus, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1960.  He has lived in Rome, London, Chicago, New York City, Princeton, and New England.  Since 1955, he has been on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where is now Adjunct Professor of English.  He is also General Editor of the Penguin Books series "Writers from the Other Europe."  Recently he has been spending half of each year in Europe, traveling and writing.
 
Published May 12, 1997 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 435 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction
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Critic reviews for American Pastoral
All: 9 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent

Some of the best pure writing Roth has done. And Swede Levov's anguished cry "What the hell is wrong with doing things right?" may be remembered as one of the classic utterances in American fiction.

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NY Times

Above average
on Apr 20 1997

''American Pastoral'' is a little slow -- as befits its crumbling subject, but unmistakably slow all the same.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent

Am agnificent meditation on a pivotal decade in our nation's history.

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Blog Critics

Excellent
on Jan 19 2009

If this doesn’t add up to the The Great American Novel (which is coincidentally is the name of the book Roth wrote the year he turned forty), it gets pretty darn close.

Read Full Review of American Pastoral | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Book Reporter

Good
on Jan 20 2011

He embraces his characters and, in doing so, draws us into this touching and tragic tale.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
on May 16 1997

Roth beautifully encapsulates the rise and fall of Newark and the end of American innocence.

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Pajiba

Above average

I was let a bit let down considering this book is so often called one of the best American books ever.

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Critical Mob

Good

Roth convincingly captures the pain of a man who cannot earn the one thing that matters most to him: the love of his daughter.

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John Baker's Blog

Good
on Mar 03 2008

He spells out the frailty and enfeeblement of the world we have built, in the process giving us a cultural horror-story which, nevertheless, rings absolutely true.

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Reader Rating for American Pastoral
70%

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