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Nemesis

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  8,833 Ratings  ·  1,053 Reviews
In the “stifling heat of equatorial Newark,” a terrifying epidemic is raging, threatening the children of the New Jersey city with maiming, paralysis, lifelong disability, and even death. This is the startling theme of Philip Roth’s wrenching new book: a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely knit, family-oriented Newark community a ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Michael Finocchiaro
The last of the eponymous tetralogy, Nemesis is the powerfully written tale of Bucky Cantor and the Newark polio crisis of 1944. Unable to go into the war like his friends primarily due to his poor eyesight, Bucky - a natural athlete- works as a gym teacher and playground director (do those even exist anymore?) when the epidemic hits Newark hard. As always Roth's prose is sublime, his humanity breathtaking, and his analysis sharp and precise. Roth said that this would be his last book ever and I ...more
brian
Oct 08, 2010 brian rated it liked it
if i pie-graphed all the (wasted) hours i've spent arguing on this site, a sizable portion would be wedged out to old man roth. he's one of those guys that really drives people batty (call it a flaw, but i really really love those people who drive other people up the wall): whether he's too ironic, too earnest, too jewish, too american, too classical, too postmodern, too stylized, not stylized enough, too white, too old, too liberal, too conservative, or that he's a misogynist, racist, sexist, s ...more
Andrew Smith
Sep 02, 2011 Andrew Smith rated it it was amazing
Roth's books are usually dark, unsettling, argumentative, challenging, sexually explicit, political… well, you get the picture. So not quite what you'd reach for when spending a nice relaxing day swinging in the hammock. Ok, so I haven't got a hammock but I do sometimes reach for a Roth book - mainly when I've had my fill of crime capers and fancy something a little more serious.

This novel is set in Newark in the sweltering Summer of 1944, at the time of a polio epidemic. It follows a young man
...more
Lisa
Jun 25, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I have been thinking about what makes some books stay in my memory...

... even long after I returned them to a library in a town from which I moved away some ten years ago? And why others just fade away to an extent that I could possibly read them again without ever recognising that I have actually met the characters before? Or buy a new copy because I have forgotten I own one already?

Philip Roth's "Nemesis" is one of those books I remember with force after ten years, and I know why as well. The
...more
Paul Bryant
May 16, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
I read this in a day (it was Sunday). Started at 9 in the morning (weather unseasonably cool); finished on the stroke of midnight. I did stop to eat and breathe and watch a movie, but gulping down a short Roth was very invigorating. This novel has a powerful grip for one so short, like an 80 year old grandmother who just won’t let you go. It’s a tragic story of a polio epidemic in 1944 in Newark, New Jersey and I give it four big stars for its urgency, unusual subject and the fact that Philip Ro ...more
Krok Zero
Oct 17, 2010 Krok Zero rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fall-2010
There's nobody less salvageable than a ruined good boy.

The gnomic sentence above could have served as the epigraph to Roth's masterpiece American Pastoral, a novel to which this absolutely gorgeous and deeply troubling novelette is, I believe, a terrific B-side. Like Swede Levov in Pastoral, protagonist Bucky Cantor is an upstanding citizen of his mid-20th-century Jewish New Jersey community, athletically gifted and respected by all; and like Swede, Bucky finds himself thrown into the kind of pe
...more
Helle
Nov 26, 2015 Helle rated it liked it
Helle, meet Philip. Philip, meet Helle. Except of course, Philip Roth has not met me – but I have certainly met him. His is one those names that have been hovering on my horizon for years, but after abandoning Portnoy’s Complaint years ago (vowing that I’d get back to it when I was a more mature reader), I kept putting it off, suspecting he wasn’t really my kind of thing. I’m still not sure that he is, but I’m glad to have met him.

The novel is a portrait of polio and its ravaging effects in 1940
...more
Darwin8u
Oct 14, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
It wasn't great Roth, but I've got to say almost any Roth is going to be pretty damn good. This one focuses on a polio epidemic in 1944. It seems like late in Roth's writing career, after going on one of the greatest runs of 5 star literature ever, Roth spent a decade writing high little novellas that allowed him to explore delicate themes. These books seem to me, the equivalent of Frank Lloyd Wright spending his last years working just on chairs and desks. So, yes, pretty damn good, but in the ...more
Elyse
Sep 30, 2011 Elyse rated it it was amazing
FRICKIN FANTASTIC---

If I could pick one author to study ---(read and discuss his books)---in a College University class---
it would be Philip Roth.

He gets to me 'Always'.....and "Nemesis" is a gem.

Rather than add anything else to the already wonderful 'other' 5 star reviews that several people also gave this book....

I'll just say--- I think Roth is one of our very best contemporary American writers we've got!

Love how this guys brain works!!!

May
Jan 18, 2016 May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: estantería
Némesis es una novela que se desarrolla durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y que sin duda no dejará indiferente a nadie. Sobre lo dura que fue la póleo durante los veranos de los años treinta y cuarenta mientras la guerra tenía lugar, es una novela con un ritmo trepidante, con un protagonista muy bien construido y con una historia que no dejará indiferente a nadie.
Estamos ante una novela que cuenta con un giro increíble al final, que deja con la boca abierta y que demuestra la virtud del autor a
...more
Lucrezia
Dec 01, 2014 Lucrezia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Driiiiin!
Suona finalmente la campanella della terza ora, Lucrezia sprofondata in uno stato di narcolessi fin dalla sua entrata a scuola quella mattina, finalmente si riscuote e apre un po di più gli occhi. Sta per arrivare il momento della sua materia preferita ,dopo la letteratura italiana, letteratura greca. Sebbene detesti la professoressa con tutto il cuore a causa della sua tracotante ignoranza e della sua perfidia, e sebbene spieghi praticamente leggendo dal libro e senza aggiungere un con
...more
Kinga
Dec 25, 2012 Kinga rated it liked it
Roth’s last book and my first Roth’s book. As any of my school teachers could tell you – I have absolutely zero respect for authority, so I approached Philip Roth with exactly as much reverence as I would have for any first time writer in their 20s. Additionally, I find Roth’s rabid fanboys the most annoying demographic ever, so if you are one of them you might want to do yourself a favour and stop reading right here.
Alright, let’s see what this male Joyce Carol Oates has to offer. As a side not
...more
W Perry
Sep 26, 2012 W Perry rated it really liked it
The Petrifying Fear of Polio in 1944 Newark, NJ, USA

As war raged overseas in 1944, the U.S. was fighting against the polio epidemic, particularly in its largest cities, such as Newark and its large Jewish community. In this short novel, probably Philip Roth's last one, he explores the effects on a community when a lurking, unseen evil is the enemy: fear, panic, loss of faith in God. Polio is a virus, or infectious disease, that can cause severe weakness in muscles and paralysis. No vaccine for p
...more
Carol
This is a frightening story about a polio epidemic that spreads throughout the Jewish community of Newark during the excruciating hot summer of 1944, and the struggles of 23 year old Bucky Cantor who's 4-F military status keeps him from joining his buddies in the war.

Bucky, a physical education teacher, is an extremely conscientious and kind-hearted young man who sincerely cares for the children in his care and is well-liked and admired for his athletic ability and easy-going ways in return, but

...more
Lawyer
It is the summer of 1944. While a world war rages across the Atlantic and Pacific, a different war is fought on the home front. In the blistering heat of that summer Polio reappears in Newark, New Jersey. Its origin is unknown. Its effects are horrifying as anxious parents watch their children fall ill overnight.

Bucky Cantor is a college graduate, a phys-ed teacher in charge of a New Jersey playground. Cantor is 4-F because of his poor eyesight. He is ashamed to be seen on the street in civilian
...more
Josh
Apr 13, 2013 Josh rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Not quite living to my
Expectations of Roth, Nemesis
Meets the demand of his faithful readers and delivers an
End to a prestigious career. It is a
Story of hysteria, sickness and sadness;
Intertwining reminiscence with a moral conclusion.
Simple, superfluous mostly, but still Roth-esque in nature.
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 10, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2012)
My 6th read book by Philip Roth and he is still to disappoint. In fact, next to his The Human Stain (4 stars), this is one of his better novels for me.

This is the story of a 23-y/o Jewish orphan man Eugene "Bucky" Cantor who wants to go to war to defend his country but he is short and with poor eyesight. Instead applies to be the playground officer of the Jewish Weequahic section in Newark. The year was in 1944, eight years before the discovery of polio vaccine. While his friends are either in E
...more
Jason Coleman
Nov 15, 2010 Jason Coleman rated it liked it
Shelves: greatest-hits
Now that the Grecian-tragedy scaffolding of Roth's recent novellas is finally clear (Coetzee lays it out very simply in his NYRB review, and Roth himself now groups these works together as his Nemeses books), I have to say I like the idea in theory. But like all the other books in what has shaped up to be a series, this latest work's strong premise is undone by an ultimately enervated performance. Roth's energy really does seem to be finally flagging. The way the author practically throws the st ...more
Connie
Nemesis is set in the Jewish Weequahic section of Newark during a polio epidemic in the summer of 1944. Bucky Cantor is a strong, earnest young man who feels guilty that he is unable to fight in World War II due to poor eyesight. He is spending his summer working as a playground director for a large group of boys. The people of Newark are upset as polio spreads through their city, and they don't know how it is spread or how to cure it. Blame is placed on the Italians, the Jews, dirty stores, and ...more
Cosimo
Dec 11, 2014 Cosimo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La freccia invisibile

“Ma adesso non era più un bambino, ed era in grado di comprendere che la ragione per cui le cose non avrebbero potuto essere diverse andava imputata a Dio. Se non fosse stato per Dio, se non fosse stato per la natura di Dio, le cose sarebbero state diverse”.

Escluso dalla guerra, orfano di madre e segnato da un'inestinguibile senso del dovere, Bucky Cantor vive con eroismo e ostinazione la torrida estate del New Jersey che segnerà per sempre la sua irrecuperabile e terribile
...more
Marco Tamborrino
"Dio era un essere onnipotente che riuniva in un'unica entità divina non tre persone, come nel cristianesimo, ma due: uno stronzo depravato e un genio del male".

Il dialogo sulla malvagità di Dio è il tema centrale del romanzo, anche se Roth, fortunatamente, non ha insistito in modo esagerato sulla questione e ha lasciato che si facesse strada nei pensieri del protagonista un poco alla volta. Bucky Cantor vede il Dio ebraico come un essere malvagio e imperfetto, come un criminale, come il respo
...more
Simona
Sep 15, 2013 Simona rated it really liked it
Roth non sbaglia un colpo e questo romanzo ne è l'ennesima dimostrazione.
"Nemesi" è un romanzo sui sensi di colpa, sulla colpa di un giovane che si chiede cosa avrebbe potuto fare se... Un se che pone mille domande, un se che porta a chiedersi cosa fare, un se dai mille dubbi.
Lo stile di Roth è, come sempre perfetto. Ogni parola si trova esattamente al posto giusto per lasciare sbigottito il lettore.
Una storia intrisa di malinconia e tristezza che tocca il cuore. Una storia che vale la pena d
...more
Maria Beltrami
"Devo dire che, per quanta compassione possa provare per il cumulo di calamità che gli aveva rovinato la vita, non si tratta d'altro che di stupida superbia, non la superbia della volontà o del desiderio ma la superbia di un'infantile, irreale interpretazione religiosa"
Già, quanti danni ha fatto a ogni singolo uomo e al mondo intero quel voler essere tutti di un pezzo che non è altro che incapacità di gioire del mondo, nella buona e nella cattiva sorte.
Un libro indimenticabile.
Israel Montoya Baquero
Apr 22, 2017 Israel Montoya Baquero rated it really liked it
Bello y devastador. Que alguien le de el Nobel ya a Roth, por favor.
Jim
I hadn't read anything by Philip Roth since his 1991 memoir, Patrimony, and so picked up this short novel on an impulse last week, and I'm glad I did.

Nemesis isn't a terribly important part of his oeuvre, but it does tug at the emotions. I started reading it while having lunch alone in a busy restaurant and within the first 40 pages, I found myself getting all teary-eyed and upset until my entrecôte de boeuf arrived and I was able to calm myself with a bit of red-meat mastication.

The talent and
...more
Paula Margulies
Feb 20, 2011 Paula Margulies rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the old-fashioned narrative style of this book, which fits the time and the subject matter: a strapping 23-yr-old Jewish man, Bucky Cantor who, passed over for the draft due to poor eyesight, lands a job as a playground director in a Newark suburb during a 1944 polio epidemic. Despite his attempts to protect his young charges, Bucky watches many of them succumb to the disease. He struggles with guilt and questions his religion after his fiance lures him from his playground job to a "sa ...more
Ann
Dec 20, 2010 Ann rated it liked it
Philip Roth is a masterful writer, but this book was just weird. The first part was a great story about the devastating effect of polio on the Jewish section of Newark, New Jersey in the 1940's. Bucky Cantor, the playground supervisor, who was kept out of the army by his poor sight,feels guilty as he watches young kids get sick and die.

In the middle section, he joins his girlfriend as a swim coach at a camp in the mountains. He spends most of his time feeling guilty for abandoning his charges in
...more
Bên Phía Nhà Z
câu chuyện thì rất bi kịch, còn gì bi kịch hơn khi trẻ con bị chết vì bệnh dịch hàng loạt, đen tối kinh khủng, cũng có rất nhiều chi tiết cảm động nhưng nói chung là truyện kể hơi bị chán. không nỡ cho 2sao thực ra chỉ đáng 2sao rưỡi, cũng chả buồn viết cả review để mà chê. không đọc cũng chả mất gì, không phải là cuốn xuất sắc. à quên là kết cục hơi bị hãm. chả ra làm sao.
Meredith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katerina
Mar 31, 2017 Katerina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recensioni
Nemesi è un libro particolare, tanto che parlandone uno si aspetterebbe quasi che sia noioso. In fin dei conti chi ambienta una storia nel 1944 e non parla della Seconda guerra mondiale, decidendo di parlarle, invece, di un giovane che assiste impotente ad un'epidemia di poliomelite? Che tipo di trama potrà mai venirne fuori?
Ero perplessa, ma questo mi ha permesso di capire che Philip Roth è uno scrittore che sa il fatto suo, e neppure poco, quindi nonostante le premesse mi sono trovata davanti
...more
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  • The Blindness of the Heart
  • Experience: A Memoir
  • Cost
  • Kieron Smith, Boy
  • Fever
  • Roth Unbound
  • Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel
  • Galactic Pot-Healer
  • The World of S.J. Perelman
  • The Sonderberg Case
  • Matters of Honor
  • Clown Girl
  • Invisible
  • Donna di Porto Pim
  • Exley
  • The Lunatic at Large
  • A Special Providence
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Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained early literary fame with the 1959 collection Goodbye, Columbus (winner of 1960's National Book Award), cemented it with his 1969 bestseller Portnoy's Complaint, and has continued to write critically-acclaimed works, many of which feature his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. The Zuckerman novels began with The Ghost Writer in 1979, and inc ...more
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“You have a conscience, and a conscience is a valuable attribute, but not if it begins to make you think you were to blame for what is far beyond the scope of your responsibility.” 20 likes
“It was impossible to believe that Alan was lying in that pale, plain pine box merely from having caught a summertime disease. That box from which you cannot force your way out. That box in which a twelve-year-old was twelve years old forever. The rest of us live and grow older by the day, but he remains twelve. Millions of years go by, and he is still twelve.” 7 likes
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