From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Roth's brilliant and disconcerting new novel plumbs the depths of the early Cold War–era male libido, burdened as it is with sexual myths and a consciousness overloaded with vivid images of impending death, either by the bomb or in Korea. At least this is the way things appear to narrator Marcus Messner, the 19-year-old son of a Newark kosher butcher. Perhaps because Marcus's dad saw his two brothers' only sons die in WWII, he becomes an overprotective paranoid when Marcus turns 18, prompting Marcus to flee to Winesburg College in Ohio. Though the distance helps, Marcus, too, is haunted by the idea that flunking out of college means going to Korea. His first date in Winesburg is with doctor's daughter Olivia Hutton, who would appear to embody the beautiful normality Marcus seeks, but, instead, she destroys Marcus's sense of normal by surprising him after dinner with her carnal prowess. Slightly unhinged by this stroke of fortune, he at first shuns her, then pesters her with letters and finally has a brief but nonpenetrative affair with her. Olivia, he discovers, is psychologically fragile and bears scars from a suicide attempt—a mark Marcus's mother zeroes in on when she meets the girl for the first and last time. Between promising his mother to drop her and longing for her, Marcus goes through a common enough existential crisis, exacerbated by run-ins with the school administration over trivial matters that quickly become more serious.... The terrible sadness of Marcus's life is rendered palpable by Roth's fierce grasp on the psychology of this butcher's boy, down to his bought-for-Winesburg wardrobe. It's a melancholy triumph and a cogent reflection on society in a time of war. (Sept.)
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"In a plot that evokes the author's earlier work, Roth (Exit Ghost, 2007, etc.) focuses on a young man's collegiate coming of age against the deadly backdrop of the Korean War. The book has a taut, elegant symmetry....A twist in narrative perspective reinforces this novel's timelessness." Kirkus Reviews, Starred "As provocative as his astonishing The Plot Against America...[A] fast-paced, compassionate, humorous, historically-conscious novel..." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review "We can see again his shocking ability to bring history to bear on the present. As always, the rpose is well built -- sinewy and graceful -- and, as always, the wit is as sharp as a German knife. There are simply no novels by Roth in which you cannot detect the hand of a master. -- Vince Passaro O, The Oprah Magazine ..".there's a lovely perplexedness to the writing here...It's a terrific book..." Gentleman's Quarterly "Of how many writers can it be said that they're still producing some of their best work well into their 70s? With [Indignation], his 24th novel, Philip Roth proves beyond any dispute that he deserves to be counted in that select group." Bookpage A meditation on love, death, and madness, Roth's new novel combines the comic absurdity of his early novel like Portnoy's Complaint with the pathos of his later novels like Everyman and Exit Ghost.Library Journal Starred "Roth has been burning up the track for well over a decade now ... And in INDIGNATION his power and intensity seem undiminished...Roth's secret, I think, is his supreme confidence as a storyteller -- and, paradoxically, a supreme humility...Of all Roth's recent novels, it ventures farthest into the unknowable. In his unshowy way, with all his quotidian specificity and merciless skepticism, Roth is attempting to storm heaven -- an endeavor all the more desperately daring because he seems dead certain it's not there." -- David Gates, on the cover of The New York Times B
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