American Pastoral, by Philip Roth (Vintage 1997)

Neil's picture

Incredibly, this is the first Philip Roth I've read - aside from Portnoy's Complaint as a naive teenager, which I failed to get. I'd always had this belief that he's 'difficult'. I think that had put me off. Anyway, I'm pleased I've now read this superb, epic novel, which is extremely readable, while also being subtle, profound and moving. It tells the story of a successful businessman, good-looking, and thriving in post-war America, until his daughter commits a violent act of political terrorism, which destroys his family. The portrayal of America at the crossroads of the 1960s, with Viet Nam war protests and the rise of the cultural underbelly is potent, and prescient. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize, and was subsequently made into a not-very-good film.