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Author winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2011.
Sarah Broadhurst's view...
A stunning work, a literary giant and a thrilling read. The reactions of the Jewish population of Newark on the election of Charles Lindberg, known to be a Nazi sympathiser, is portrayed in a masterly fashion. There is a summary of historical facts at the end for those who are confused; I needed it.
Comparison: Norman Mailer, John Updike.
Similar this month: Tom Wolfe.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.
Philip Roth just gets better. This, his latest novel, is a stunning achievement.
In THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA, Roth poses a terrifying, yet perfectly plausible, ‘what if..’: What if Charles Lindbergh, suave aviator hero and proto-fascist, had become President of the United States in 1941?
Roth constructs a chilling scenario where America not only fails to engage in World War II and prevent Hitler’s march across Europe, but allows its government to implement anti-Semitic programmes that are sending it on the road towards a ‘final solution’ for the Jewish population.
The story is told in the voice of Philip Roth, nine-year-old second generation American Jew, living in Newark, New Jersey. The perspective of the young boy is not only completely convincing – his limited understanding, his undeserved guilt, his admiration for less than worthy heroes – but it also creates an empathetic viewpoint for the terrible events that shape the lives of his family and friends. The story is engrossing, Roth’s characterisation is, as always, deft – Philip’s father, brother, cousin, uncle are all too plausible in their fallibility – and the effortless brilliance of some of the passages is breath-taking.
My only reservation about the book is that it is written about an era, twenty three years before the Jim Crow laws were repealed, when segregation – in schools, restaurants, cinemas, buses - was not only commonplace but was legal. By ignoring this fundamental aspect of American social history, and writing it from a purely Jewish standpoint, Roth leaves a gaping hole in the narrative of an otherwise fantastic novel.
Written in the context of the ‘soft fascism’ of the Bush regime and the erosion of civil liberties in the UK, the novel serves to remind us of how fragile racial tolerance can be and how we should guard against a complacence that allows discrimination, legal or otherwise, in our multi-cultural societies.
When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews for selfishly pushing America towards a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but, upon taking office as the 33rd president of the United States, he negotiated a cordial 'understanding' with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and whose virulent anti-Semitic policies he appeared to accept without difficulty.
What then followed in America is the historical setting for this startling new novel by Pulitzer-prize winner Philip Roth, who recounts what it was like for his Newark family - and for a million such families all over the country - during the menacing years of the Lindbergh presidency, when American citizens who happened to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.
'At 71, Roth has produced a sensation with The Plot Against America, casting the post-September 11 era in a chilling new light'. The Sunday Times
Publication date: 06/10/2005
|Publication date:||6th October 2005|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
In the 1990s Philip Roth won America's four major literary awards in succession: the National Book Critics Circle Award for Patrimony (1991), the PEN/Faulkner Award for Operation Shylock (1993), the National Book Award for Sabbath's Theater (1995), and the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for American Pastoral (1997). He won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union for I Married a Communist (1998); in the same year he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. Previously he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Counterlife (1986) and the National Book Award for his first book, Goodbye, Columbus (1959). In 2000 he published ...More About Philip Roth