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The Ghost Writer [Paperback]

Philip Roth
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Jun 2005

The Ghost Writer introduces Nathan Zuckerman in the 1950s; a budding writer infatuated with the Great Books, discovering the contradictory claims of literature and experience while an overnight guest in the secluded New England farmhouse of his literary idol, E. I. Lonoff.

At Lonoff's, Zuckerman meets Amy Bellette, a haunting young woman of indeterminate foreign background who turns out to be a former student of Lonoff's and who may also have been his mistress. Zuckerman, with his active, youthful imagination, wonders if she could be the paradigmatic victim of Nazi persecution. If she were, it might change his life...

The first volume of the trilogy and epilogue Zuckerman Bound, The Ghost Writer is about the tensions between literature and life, artistic truthfulness and conventional decency - and about those implacable practitioners who live with the consequences of sacrificing one for the other.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099477572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099477570
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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 prizes: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America.

Product Description


"I had only to read the two opening sentences to realize that I was once again in the hands of a superbly endowed storyteller" (New York Review of Books)

"Further evidence that Roth can do practically anything with fiction. His narrative power - the ability to delight the reader simultaneously with the telling and the tale - is superb" (Washington Post)

Book Description

'A well-tempered triumph - marvellously controlled...mercilessly compact' New Statesman

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "What do I know, other than what I can imagine?" 25 Aug 2004
Philip Roth, in this first of the Nathan Zuckerman novels, published in 1979, introduces Nathan as a twenty-three-year-old graduate of the University of Chicago who has had four short stories published and is looking for a mentor. Having contacted famed writer E. I. Lonoff, a writer living in rural New England with his wife of 35 years, he has accepted Lonfof's invitation to visit, but a snowstorm arises and Zuckerman finds himself spending the night with Lonoff and his wife. His observations about the life of Lonoff leads him imagine many stories--about Lonoff's past, his possible relationship with a young former student, and about his life in the countryside. In addition, he also reminisces about his own past, his relationships with his family, his feelings toward his own writing, his possible obligations to Jewish history, and the imagined past of Amy, Lonoff's former student, who resembles Anne Frank.
Though Zuckerman is full of hopes for a broader relationship with Lonoff, he soon discovers that his idol is a petulant and insecure man who has used and, in some cases, emotionally abused, those around him, all in the name of "art." Spending a sleepless winter night on the couch in Lonoff's den, Zuckerman investigates Lonoff's library, especially the collection of the writings of Henry James, which Lonoff admires so much, tries to write a letter to his estranged father (who is appalled by one of Nathan's recent short stories, which, he feels, feeds anti-Semitic prejudice), and ponders the relationship between genuine creativity, editing and revision, and the possible responsibilities of a writer beyond his own creative impulse.
A story about the writing of stories, this novella explores the fictional lives writers create from their own lives, and the sacrifices they make.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catharsis 15 April 1998
By A Customer
I can't believe I am the first to post my opinion of this book. I discovered Philip Roth recently, somehow never hearing of him before(the more I discover about Roth the more I am astounded that this could be possible). By the time I was finished reading The Ghost Writer, my first real influence had been set and my view of myself as writer altered. Every hour I dwelled on what I had experienced, and rushed out to buy the sequel, Zuckerman Unbound. The day I began to read it, this author who had entered my life like a thunderbolt only days earlier, this author who published his first book when he was my age, won his first Pulitzer prize. I have only known of his work for a week but the first thing across my mind was "It's about time!". I am not the first to relate to young Zuckerman and surely will not be the last.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of life 12 Nov 2012
By GlynLuke TOP 500 REVIEWER
There are few artistic pleasures more potent than reading Roth at his best, which is most of the time. This is certainly one of his finest shorter novels, being the first in the series of Zuckerman books, in some of which he is the main protagonist and in others a more peripheral character (as in American Pastoral or The Human Stain).
Those who complain that Roth writes overtly `male` books, from a determinedly masculine viewpoint, should read the last chapter of The Ghost Writer, where Hope, the wife of the central author/father-figure/mentor gets to tell a few home truths to her somewhat impassive, single-minded husband. There are two women at the forefront of this rich and hugely impressive novel, the other being the enigmatic, shadowy Amy Bellette - who may possibly not be all she seems. (I wouldn`t dream of saying more than that.)
Nathan Zuckerman, a budding writer in love with the Great Books and their authors, is in his twenties and visiting E.I. Lonoff, respected mandarin of American literature. He is persuaded to stay the night. While there he glimpses a young woman, about whom he weaves a tale of probable wishful-thinking which also serves as a distinct chapter of the novel we`re reading. (So many ghosts!) He finds himself caught in the middle of a family drama...
The `plot` as such is less important perhaps than the writing itself. There are few writers of my lifetime (Roth`s first novel was published when I was eight) who, sentence by sentence, are able to take my breath away so consistently. His writing manages to be both expansive - those long-breathed paragraphs - and extremely precise, both funny and furious. It`s worth quoting a blurb from the back cover, courtesy of the Washington Post:

Further evidence that Roth can do practically anything with fiction.
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3.0 out of 5 stars oh, it's finished! 3 July 2014
By J
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's hardly long enough to be a novel. I kept thinking something would develop, but no. Well written but I didn't get why.
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