American Pastoral Paperback – 5 Mar 1998
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"Marvellous... Raging and elegaic" (Guardian)
"A tragedy of classical proportions...a magnificent novel" (The Times)
"Utterly tragic and compelling. It's one of the greatest modern American novels" (Tatler)
"Wonderful, rich...entirely gripping" (Sunday Telegraph)
"A momentous novel" (Observer)
Reissued in electric new backlist style for October 2016, American Pastoral won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is told by Roth's alter-ego, Nathan Zuckerman, who appears in several of his novels. In this one, Zuckerman was at school in Roth's old hunting grounds of Newark with the Swede's younger brother at the time when the Swede was winning glory on the football and baseball fields. To the young Nathan, he was a hero whose sporting skills lifted the morale of the community in the final years of WW2, and who was living proof that success was attainable for anyone from any background in the great meritocracy of the US. It's only after the Swede's death in the present day (late 1990s) that Zuckerman hears the story of Merry and the bombing. So the reader knows from the beginning that the story Zuckerman tells is not in fact 'true', except for the barest of bones, but instead Zuckerman's imagining of it. The struggle to make sense of it all is in fact Zuckerman's rather than the Swede's.Read more ›
As the novel opens, Skip Zuckerman, the childless, unattached, first-person narrator of the trilogy has a chance meeting with a boyhood hero at a baseball game. This hero is Swede Levov, an older man who is still, impossibly blonde, blue-eyed and youthful; a legend within his predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Swede is the very embodiment of "America" and all that "being American" stands for. He is, Skip is sure, incapable of living anything but the perfect, and perfectly rewarding, life.
Swede's brother, Jerry, was Skip's best friend, so when Swede asks for a meeting with Skip, Skip is a little puzzled but not all that surprised. Swede, however, doesn't ask anything specific of Skip, but talks of his sons and his memories of Newark before and during World War II. This meeting, though, is pivotal to the novel's central question and its meaning soon becomes crystal clear.
As the novel progresses, Skip attends his high school reunion and, while making note of the various deficiencies shared by the sixtyish men and women in attendance, becomes convinced that no human being ever really knows or understands another. He is depressed by all the conversation about cancer, divorce and the various problems associated with growing older.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nothing short of brilliant. Reserved to educated crowd because of the subtle and refined language and to fully appreciate the merits of the plot. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Modernist
What a crying shame this book is. Up until the old friends' reunion near the end of the opening Paradise Remembered section it is superb, writer 'Skip' Zuckerman giving us memories... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mike Collins
This is a masterpiece - in its writing, structure and themes. Don't be put off by "yet another" novel dissecting the American Dream. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Paul Sutton
Deep storyline with neat twist .... He is undoubtedly a master of writing.Published 8 months ago by WildIrishGuy
This is an incredibly impressive literary novel. It's hard to review without giving too much of the plot away, but it's a very moving study of an American family that gripped me,... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mr. D. E. Calladine
Fantastic, deep, multilayered, well written achievement. Roth is an amazing writer.Published 9 months ago by MS V Rosenberg
The American dream turns to Nightmare. Human frailty, Disillusionment, Hypocrisy and teenage angst - all delivered in a smooth crisp style that carries you through to the end. Read morePublished 12 months ago by K. Baines