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The Dying Animalby Philip Roth
Synopses & Reviews
No matter how much you know, no matter how much you think, no matter how much you plot and you connive and you plan, you?re not superior to sex. With these words our most unflaggingly energetic and morally serious novelist launches perhaps his fiercest book. The speaker is David Kepesh, white-haired and over sixty, an eminent cultural critic and star lecturer at a New York college — as well as an articulate propagandist of the sexual revolution. For years he has made a practice of sleeping with adventurous female students while maintaining an aesthete's critical distance. But now that distance has been annihilated.
The agency of Kepesh's undoing is Consuela Castillo, the decorous and humblingly beautiful 24-year-old daughter of Cuban exiles. When he becomes involved with her, Kepesh finds himself dragged — helplessly, bitterly, furiously — into the quagmire of sexual jealousy and loss. In chronicling this descent, Philip Roth performs a breathtaking set of variations on the themes of eros and mortality, license and repression, selfishness and sacrifice. The Dying Animal is a burning coal of a book, filled with intellectual heat and not a little danger.
"The productivity and urgency of Roth's work for the past decade stand alone in contemporary American fiction....
"The novella is as brilliantly written, line by line, as any book in Roth's oeuvre, and it's bound to be talked about with gusto." Publishers Weekly
"[A] taut and ferocious tale....Kepesh may be selfish and manipulative, but Roth has imbued him with profound integrity and blazing intelligence....Virtuosic, riling, and fearless, Roth is the bard of the modern American psyche." Booklist
"The recent creative surge that has produced some of Roth's best fiction continues with this intense short novel..." Kirkus Reviews
"Sorrowful, sexy, elegant....[A] distinguished addition to Roth's increasingly remarkable literary career." San Francisco Chronicle
"Roth is a mesmerizing writer, whose very language has the vitality of a living organism." The Los Angeles Times
"This little book delivers a chill that you wouldn't get from a Zuckerman novel." Newsday
"[A] disturbing masterpiece." The New York Review of Books
Combining the moral seriousness of his American Trilogy with the furious energy he brought to Sabbath's Theater and The Professor of Desire, Roth performs a virtuosic set of variations on the theme of sexuality and its discontents.
About the Author
In the 1990s Philip Roth won America's four major literary awards in succession: the National Book Critics Circle Award for Patrimony (1991), the PEN/Faulkner Award for Operation Shylock (1993), the National Book Award for Sabbath's Theater (1995), and the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for American Pastoral (1997). He won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union for I Married a Communist (1998); in the same year he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. Previously he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Counterlife (1986) and the National Book Award for his first book, Goodbye, Columbus (1959). In 2000 he published The Human Stain, concluding a trilogy that depicts the ideological ethos of postwar America. For The Human Stain, Roth received his second PEN/Faulkner Award as well as Britain's W. H. Smith Award for the Best Book of the Year. In 2001 he received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in fiction, given every six years "for the entire work of the recipient."
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