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Publisher's Summary

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 and its children.

At the center of Nemesis is a vigorous, dutiful 23-year-old playground director, Bucky Cantor, a javelin thrower and weightlifter, who is devoted to his charges and disappointed with himself because his weak eyes have excluded him from serving in the war alongside his contemporaries.

Focusing on Cantor's dilemmas as polio begins to ravage his playground and on the everyday realities he faces, Roth leads us through every inch of the emotions such a pestilence can breed: the fear, the panic, anger, bewilderment, suffering, and pain. Moving between the smoldering, malodorous streets of besieged Newark and Indian Hill, a pristine childrens summer camp high in the Poconos whose "mountain air was purified of all contaminants", Roth depicts a decent, energetic man with the best intentions struggling in his own private war against the epidemic. Roth is tenderly exact at every point about Cantors passage into personal disaster, and no less exact about the condition of childhood.

Through this story runs the dark questions that haunt all four of Roths late short novels, Everyman, Indignation, The Humbling, and now Nemesis: What kind of accidental choices fatally shape a life? How does the individual withstand the onslaught of circumstance?

©2010 Philip Roth (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Nemesis stands out for its warmth. It is suffused with precise and painful tenderness…. The architecture of Roth's sentences is almost invisibly elegant; not only doesn't one notice the art, one barely notices the sentence, registering instead pure function: meaning, rhythm, intent." (The New York Times Book Review)
"The fourth in the great and undiminished Roth's recent cycle of short novels.... [A]s exceptional as those novels are, this latest in the series far exceeds its predecessors in both emotion and intellect." (Booklist)
"Having the youthful-sounding Dennis Boutsikaris narrate a book written by an older man is an interesting production choice. Philip Roth wrestles with some of the more harrowing themes of aging in his recent work. The story is told from the perspective of a 23-year-old man who is weathering a polio epidemic in 1943. But it is clearly coming from the wisdom and perspective of one of the elders in American letters. This disparity serves the audio production well. Boutsikaris lends a credibility to the novel’s observations and to their source, strengthening the protagonist’s 'voice' while losing none of the wisdom gleaned from the author’s having been there, long ago." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A very sad emotional story

This book was very well read by Dennis Boutsikaris. As I have worked to help eradicate polio in India, the story brought home to me the devastation that a preventable disease can bring to a community. I know many survivors of Polio, who now in their declining years are suffering from the effects of the painful and crippling disease.

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A heartbreaking story well told

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is atypical of most of Philip Roth's work. It goes straight to the emotions with its simple story of a fine, promising young man and his run-in with fate or, perhaps, an evil, uncaring Supreme Being. Dennis Boutsikaris does such a magnificent job of reading this that I just cannot image anyone else who could touch him. Bravo.

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Quintessential Roth

Roth taps into the period of the 40's and this tragedy so well. A well crafted story from start to finish.

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Roth always delivers!

Would you try another book from Philip Roth and/or Dennis Boutsikaris?

Yes, I would.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I have not decided as yet

What didn’t you like about Dennis Boutsikaris’s performance?

I liked his reading very much. I was especially pleased with the way he moved between the characters: not exaggerated yet with meaningful transitions. He has the perfect voice for a book about Newark.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Nemesis?

I would not cut any. It is important to honor the author.

Any additional comments?

Philip Roth always manages to touch what it is to be human.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Story interesting

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Story okay but ending disappointing, lost sense of story

Would you be willing to try another book from Philip Roth? Why or why not?

Yes be ause I typically like the authors works

Have you listened to any of Dennis Boutsikaris’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Dont know

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Janice
  • Waco, TX, United States
  • 08-21-12

I LOVE PHILIP ROTH

Would you consider the audio edition of Nemesis to be better than the print version?

Loved the book and loved the audio. Would recommend them both.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Nemesis?

I really felt the protagonist pain when he realized he might have been the carrier.

What about Dennis Boutsikaris’s performance did you like?

He was the voice

0 of 1 people found this review helpful