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Patrimony: a True Story
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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. 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.

Reviews

Roth renders his 86-year-old father's final illness in clinical detail muted with compassion and humor. He examines his role as a son faced with unspeakably difficult choices who ultimately becomes aware of the importance of memory and connectedness to one's forebears even (or especially) in such a wrenching situation. He does not idealize the patriarchal figure, but rather comes to accept him as a flawed and genuine person. In discussing spiritual aspects in light of corporeal limitations, Roth enters scarcely charted waters such as the sexuality and day-to-day needs of the elderly. His skill as a novelist comes forth in the dialog and description. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Janice Braun, Medical Historical Lib., Yale Univ.

"A tough-minded, beautifully written memoir. . . . It smacks of honesty and truthfulness on every page." --San Francisco Chronicle

"A deeply resonant portrait of a father and son. . . . Roth has looked past all comfort and condolence to find the truth--about himself and his father; about death and the fear of it; and about the absolute vulnerability to which love condemns us all." --Chicago Tribune "In a cunningly straightforward way, Patrimony tells one of the central true stories many Americans share nowadays. . . . Such telling is a marvel of artful wit and vigor. . . . It is the triumphant art of the literal . . . the gloriously pragmatic, unpredictable genius of Philip Roth's narrative gifts." --The New York Times Book Review

Alter ego Nathan Zuckerman doesn't appear in these pages, and neither is there any sleight of hand blurring the line between literature and life. Instead, here is Roth (NBCC Award-winning The Counterlife ) at his most humane as he pens a kaddish to his recently deceased father, Herman. A vigorous 86-year-old, Roth pere wakes up one morning and half his face is paralyzed; soon he is deaf in one ear and the verdict is a benign brain tumor. Surgery is ruled out for the octogenarian, and the author is a helpless, horrified witness to his father's humiliating demise, ``utterly isolated within a body that had become a terrifying escape-proof enclosure, the holding pen in a slaughterhouse.'' In a fast-paced, cogent memoir, Roth, whose filial devotion and awe are tempered with clear-eyed observational powers, ranges far afield and discusses the anti-Semitism of the insurance firm that employed Herman Roth for 40 years; Herman's perfectionism and his latter-day disregard for his wife whom he nevertheless elevated to quasi-sainthood after death; Herman's abandonment of his phylacteries in a locker at the local YMHA; the author's quintuple bypass surgery weeks before his father's death; and Herman's incontinence and the ample size of his genitals. BOMC alternate. (Feb.)

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