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Nemesis by Philip Roth

Nemesis (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Philip Roth

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986608,702 (3.81)63
Authors:Philip Roth
Info:London Cape 2010
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Nemesis by Philip Roth (2010)



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» See also 63 mentions

English (43)  Spanish (7)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  French (2)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
A story set during the polio outbreak during WWII explores how communities and individuals react in the face of epidemic. It especially explores how one young man's view of God is changed by circumstances of life and the polio outbreak. ( )
  Kristelh | May 15, 2015 |
And so back to Philip Roth after a long break of nearly six years and The Plot Against America which I thought was excellent. Nemesis is also, like Plot, set among a Jewish community of urban New Jersey. Apart from that, including it’s rating, it differs completely from the earlier Plot. I didn’t think it rated highly enough to be on the 1001 books list despite its inclusion in the latest edition.

So there’s this young Jewish guy and, because Bucky’s eyesight has prevented him from fighting in WW2, he’s doing his utmost to be the best playground supervisor he can be in the sweltering summer of 1944. His Jewish neighbourhood quietly sweats as the children gather to play baseball and skip in his playground, despite the heat.

At that time, polio stalked various communities of New Jersey (not just Jewish ones) and it’s not long before the kids Bucky knows and loves start succumbing, some of them fatally to the debilitating disease. Heartbroken and desperate to protect them, he faces a moral dilemmawhen his Jewish girlfriend invites him to take up a made-to-measure job opening in the cool hills out of the city.

I’ll not spoil if for you. Roth does plenty of that. From the title on, you know things aren’t going to end well and, before you know it, Bucky’s idyll has become the scene of terror. Quite what the terror is, I’ll leave you to imagine.

I’m really not sure what Roth was attempting with this novel. It doesn’t really do much to define its purpose. Bucky isn’t a deeply drawn character and everyone around him is barely sketched in. Even the person narrating the story only just makes it onto the scene before the brief book ends. It left me wondering why on earth it was added to the 1001 list in its most recent edition.

Perhaps it made it because it was, as declared by Roth, to be the author’s last novel. If so, it seems about time he rested. ( )
  arukiyomi | May 9, 2015 |
Altro tratteggio superbo, quello di Mr Cantor; altra epica dell'uomo delineata con maestria, quella dell'estate del 1944, e oltre. Domande senza tempo, colpe senza confini, tragedie inusitate: una storia - e un epilogo - che emozionano. Tutto l'ultimo capitolo l'ho passato rabbrividendo - poi, a margine, mi rimane sempre un senso di personale inadeguatezza nel voler dire qualcosa a proposito di un qualsiasi libro di Roth.

Molto utile, poi, ricordare cosa è la poliomelite, per noi fortunati che ne siamo vaccinati: la pagina di Wikipedia è esaustiva di quello che siamo riusciti a scampare.
Tremendo e orribile riandare poi con la mente alle epidemie degli ultimi 100 anni. Ma d'altronde a cosa servono i grandi libri, se non ad approfondire la conoscenza di noi stessi e del mondo passato e presente? ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
A young Jewish man fraught with guilt and the horrors of the polio epidemic lie at the heart of this short novel. Bucky Cantor was rejected by the army because of his eyes, yet he is a gifted athlete who oversees the athletic program at an elementary school. During the summer of 1944 the area of New Jersey where he lives and works is hit hard by a polio epidemic. Some of Bucky's pupils are struck with the disease, one or two even die, and Bucky agonizes over whether he should escape the city to go work at the camp where his fiance is working over the summer. Questions about God, who governs the universe and causes things like war and polio, and Bucky's own culpability arise. Years later the reader gets to encounter Bucky and see where the result of all these musings led him. This story packs a powerful punch, and led me to investigate the realities of the polio epidemic. I recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction and philosophical musings. ( )
  debs4jc | Nov 14, 2014 |
What a great book, though, now I am irrationally terrified of contracting poliomyelitis.
( )
  DanielAlgara | Sep 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
It’s all a bit by the numbers, though Mr. Roth executes Bucky’s story with professionalism and lots of granular period detail.

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Mossel, BabetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The first case of polio that summer came early in June, right after Memorial Day, in a poor Italian neighborhood crosstown from where we lived.
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Book description
Situé dans les environs de Newark , à l'époque où éclate une terrible épidémie de polio , Némésis décrit avec précision l'impact des circonstances sur nos vies .
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547318359, Hardcover)

In the "stifling heat of equatorial Newark," a terrifying epidemic is raging, threatening the children of the New Jersey city with maiming, paralysis, lifelong disability, and even death. This is the startling theme of Philip Roth’s wrenching new book: a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely knit, family-oriented Newark community and its children.

At the center of Nemesis is a vigorous, dutiful twenty-three-year-old playground director, Bucky Cantor, a javelin thrower and weightlifter, who is devoted to his charges and disappointed with himself because his weak eyes have excluded him from serving in the war alongside his contemporaries. Focusing on Cantor’s dilemmas as polio begins to ravage his playground—and on the everyday realities he faces—Roth leads us through every inch of emotion such a pestilence can breed: the fear, the panic, the anger, the bewilderment, the suffering, and the pain.

Moving between the smoldering, malodorous streets of besieged Newark and Indian Hill, a pristine children’s summer camp high in the Poconos—whose "mountain air was purified of all contaminants"—Roth depicts a decent, energetic man with the best intentions struggling in his own private war against the epidemic. Roth is tenderly exact at every point about Cantor’s passage into personal disaster, and no less exact about the condition of childhood.

Through this story runs the dark questions that haunt all four of Roth’s late short novels, Everyman, Indignation, The Humbling, and now Nemesis: What kind of accidental choices fatally shape a life? How does the individual withstand the onslaught of circumstance?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:53 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Roth's "Nemesis" is the story of a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely knit, family-oriented Newark community and its children.

(summary from another edition)

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