Synopses & Reviews
Everything is over for Simon Axler, the protagonist of Philip Roths startling new book. One of the leading American stage actors of his generation, now in his sixties, he has lost his magic, his talent, and his assurance. His Falstaff and Peer Gynt and Vanya, all his great roles, "are melted into air, into thin air." When he goes onstage he feels like a lunatic and looks like an idiot. His confidence in his powers has drained away; he imagines people laughing at him; he can no longer pretend to be someone else. "Something fundamental has vanished." His wife has gone, his audience has left him, his agent cant persuade him to make a comeback.
Into this shattering account of inexplicable and terrifying self-evacuation bursts a counterplot of unusual erotic desire, a consolation for a bereft life so risky and aberrant that it points not toward comfort and gratification but to a yet darker and more shocking end. In this long days journey into night, told with Roths inimitable urgency, bravura, and gravity, all the ways that we convince ourselves of our solidity, all our lifes performances—talent, love, sex, hope, energy, reputation—are stripped off.
The Humbling is Roths thirtieth book.
"There are a handful of writers I read not because of the stories they tell, or for their memorable characters, or for their ability to evoke a time or place, but because I really enjoy being inside their heads. Alice Munro is one of these writers....Philip Roth is another...there is something absolutely irresistible about his prose. I eat it up. Usually a few pages into one of his books, I find myself saying to myself, or to the person on the couch next to me: Why can't all writers be this good?" Rhian Ellis, Rain Taxi
(read the entire Rain Taxi review
A haunting, incisive and honest new work of fiction from a legendary writer, told with Roth's inimitable urgency, bravura, and gravity, that strips off all the ways in which we persuade ourselves of our solidity.
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, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. 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" and the W.H. Smith Award for the Best Book of the Year, making Roth the first writer in the forty-six-year history of the prize to win it twice.
In 2005 Roth became the third living American writer to have his works published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize. In 2012 he won Spains highest honor, the Prince of Asturias Award, and in 2013 he received Frances highest honor, Commander of the Legion of Honor.