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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 twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He 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." Roth received PEN's two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. 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. He died in 2018.
For the latest installment in his autobiographical series (collected in Zuckerman Bound , LJ 7/85), Roth has written a puzzle, but one with passion and purpose. Its mysteries, more logical than magical, concern whether either Zuckerman brother, Nathan the novelist or Henry the dentist, has suffered impotence from drugs prescribed for a heart condition and has subsequently died during a bypass operation. Each of the book's five chapters, ranging from New York to Israel to London and environs, is contradicted by what follows, until the end reminds us forcefully that The Counterlife is, like any novel, neither true nor false but counterfactual. Along the way, monologues, eulogies, letters, interviews, and conversations ponder Judaism and Zionism, the nature of personality, the competing claims of imagination and life, and (Roth being Roth) sex. Recommended. Hugh M. Crane, Brockton P.L., Mass.
"Magnificent...splendid.... I hope The Counterlife felt, as Mr. Roth wrote it, like a triumph, because that is certainly how it reads to me." --William Gass, The New York Times Book Review "Roth is a comic genius.... In this book (wonderfully sharp, worryingly intense) he is an electrifier." --Martin Amis, The Atlantic "No other writer combines such a surface of colloquial relaxation and even dishevelment with such a dense load of mediating intelligence.... Roth has never written more scrupulously or, in spots, more lovingly." --John Updike, The New Yorker