By Philip Roth
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679749042, 336pp.)
Publication Date: August 6, 1996
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The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives to alter seemingly irreversible destinies. Wherever they may find themselves, the characters of The Counterlife are tempted unceasingly by the prospect of an alternative existence that can reverse their fate.
Illuminating these lives in transition and guiding us through the book's evocative landscapes, familiar and foreign, is the miind of the novelist Nathan Zuckerman. His is the skeptical, enveloping intelligence that calculates the price that's paid in the struggle to change personal fortune and reshape history, whether in a dentist's office in suburban New Jersey, or in a tradition-bound English Village in Gloucestershire, or in a church in London's West End, or in a tiny desert settlement in Israel's occupied West Bank.
In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians’ Prize for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004.” Recently Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize.
"Magnificent...splendid.... I hope The Counterlife felt, as Mr. Roth wrote it, like a triumph, because that is certainly how it reads to me." —William Gass, The New York Times Book Review
"Roth is a comic genius.... In this book (wonderfully sharp, worryingly intense) he is an electrifier." —Martin Amis, The Atlantic
"No other writer combines such a surface of colloquial relaxation and even dishevelment with such a dense load of mediating intelligence.... Roth has never written more scrupulously or, in spots, more lovingly." —John Updike, The New Yorker