Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nemesis” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,882 Ratings  ·  971 Reviews
Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2011 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 ...more
ebook, 300 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Houghton Mifflin
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Krok Zero
Oct 18, 2010 Krok Zero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Bryant
May 16, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 19, 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
Jan 05, 2011 Caris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This was my goal: read all of Roth’s newer stuff before reading his older stuff. I’ve heard wonderful things about Portnoy’s Complaint and know from first hand experience that some of his more recent novels aren’t that good. Upon completion of this one, I can’t help but think I’ve made a mistake.

This is the story of phys ed teacher in the midst of a polio epidemic. Kids are dropping left and right and, in typical Roth fashion, this leads the young Jewish man to question god. That’s okay. With ex
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
Dec 05, 2014 Lucrezia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 21, 2014 Kinga rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew Smith
Dec 30, 2014 Andrew Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 26, 2014 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
Jan 29, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it
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

Jun 10, 2015 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jason Coleman
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
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
Dec 15, 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
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
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
Nov 18, 2014 Simona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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
Paula Margulies
Aug 31, 2012 Paula Margulies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 22, 2013 Rosalba rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Estate 1944, in Europa e nel Pacifico imperversa la guerra. A Newark, nel quartiere ebraico di Weequahic, Bucky Cantor, giovane insegnante di ginnastica e animatore del campo giochi del quartiere, si trova ad affrontare l'emergenza di una epidemia di poliomielite, che colpisce i suoi ragazzi uno dopo l'altro, senza che lui possa fare qualcosa per fermare quella carneficina. La paura e la sensazione di impotenza di fronte alla malattia che colpisce, talvolta uccidendo, e più spesso lasciando il c ...more
Jul 04, 2012 rmn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Nemesis is the most un-Rothian of Roth novels. Roth's novels usually turn out of nowhere on some unforeseen twist that manages to completely flip the story around and this usually happens relatively early, is utterly preposterous, and is unbelievably brilliant. And yet in this novel, the twist doesn't happen until near the end, it is completely telegraphed throughout (or at least most of it is), and it is sort of just "eh."

Plus, the majority of the novel is just an in-depth, maudlin, and almost
Dec 20, 2010 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had just finished reading a non-fiction, memoir account of a polio victim, and I came across, to my surprise, a fictional book dealing with polio by Philip Roth. I was curious how it would stack up to the recent and other non-fiction books about polio that I'd read. Well, as with much historical-fiction, I feel as if I learned a great deal about the scourge that was polio and its affect on communities. Roth's protagonist, Bucky Cantor, is a 23-year-old college graduate who is a PE teacher and ...more
Saverio Mariani
Philip Roth
Trad. it. Norman Gobetti
Einaudi – Numeri Primi
pp. 183 ; 13

Ebbene lascia.
Sì, Philip Roth smette di scrivere. È notizia del mese scorso.
L’ultimo romanzo, allora, è questo: Nemesi.
Non certo lascia perché non abbia più idee, oppure perché la penna ha finito l’inchiostro.
Ne sono convinto, e dico ciò perché Nemesi si presenta come un libro importante, che non ha nulla di scontato e che lascia a bocca aperta.
La scrittura d’acciaio di Roth – come la definì un mio amico, che mi spinge
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 18, 2013 Emanuela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Primo romanzo che leggo di Roth.
L'argomento è un'epidemia di poliomielite che si diffonde tra i ragazzini che frequentano un campo estivo, nel 1944, quando ancora non esisteva il vaccino. Protagonista è un insegnante di Educazione Fisica che rappresenta salute, dinamicità, attenzione educativa, ma le cui vicende personali, anche legate agli eventi contingenti, saranno segnate in maniera indelebile.

Il tema concettuale del libro è, però, il rapporto con il Dio ebreo il cui ruolo è messo in discuss
Feb 28, 2012 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started this book I wondered, what has come over Roth? Is he going senile? This is so unlike the brooding, complex and intense novels I remember. The story about the developing horror as a polio epidemic sweeps through New Jersey in 1944 should be electrifying, but it's not: it's told in a flat, rather uninspiring way by Bucky Cantor, the athletic hero (who is unfit for war because he is so short-sighted). He agonizes over his role but is strangely lacking in understanding.
Later he
Jan 26, 2015 Zach rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Selected Essays from: How to be Alone
  • 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
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
More about Philip Roth...

Share This Book

“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.” 18 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.” 6 likes
More quotes…