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Publisher's Summary

The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives to alter seemingly irreversible destinies. Wherever they may find themselves, the characters of The Counterlife are tempted unceasingly by the prospect of an alternative existence that can reverse their fate.

Illuminating these lives in transition and guiding us through the book's evocative landscapes, familiar and foreign, is the mind of the novelist Nathan Zuckerman. His is the skeptical, enveloping intelligence that calculates the price that's paid in the struggle to change personal fortune and reshape history, whether in a dentist's office in suburban New Jersey, a tradition-bound English Village in Gloucestershire, a church in London's West End, or a tiny desert settlement in Israel's occupied West Bank.

©2016 Philip Roth (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Counterlife

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars

Eros, Thanatos, and the Male Yenta

When I told a Catholic girlfriend that I was reading and loving Philip Roth's The Counterlife, she said, "Of course you are. You're a Jewish man." As obliquely hostile as some of the dialogue between Roth's men & women, this comment is also roughly as accurate. The Counterlife repeats in five variations a story about a Jewish man in early middle age weighing life, sex, identity, and the imaginary of love. I find Roth's female voices to be intellectual simulacra of what men might want or need women to say in order to carry on their stories. (This isn't a compliment.) By contrast, I feel completely at home in the interiority and dialogue of Roth's men, here the author Nathan Zuckerman and his dentist brother. Ok, but why then five stars? Why not lose some, in view of the artificiality of The Counterlife's female voices? Could it be because, as was pointed out to me, I am a Jewish man and like hearing versions of myself echoed in fiction? Sure. But more, it's because the way men tell stories about themselves to construct their identities is the essence of this masterwork of metafiction. That is what we all do all day long, and The Counterlife is a telling and retelling that, beyond plot and character, highlights the tricky ways men tell others, and, crucially, themselves, who and what they are. Beautifully narrated in this Audible edition by Malcolm Hilgartner, who captures the egoism, humor, and rage of Roth's men. His female characters sound less real. They sound like men reading women, which is very much the point.

12 people found this helpful

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The Counterlife- how deep can you get?

In his writings, Philip Roth unearths and describes human emotions in an epic narrative of reality. This book is both immensely jarring and immensely insightful at the same time. An amazing experience that can render one’s self-perception of uniqueness as something quite pedestrian.

6 people found this helpful

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excellent performance

As a non native speaker I can really appreciate when an actor’s reading is so clear and well paced and nuanced that I can appreciate this amazing novel in all its complexity

2 people found this helpful

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Roth’s obsessions

This book would be better in print because of the confusing shifting narrators and points of view. Some brilliant stretches.

1 person found this helpful

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One of Roth's Most Philosophical Novels

If you haven't read/listened to Roth before this might not be the best one to start with. Nevertheless it is a moebius strip/fun house mirror of a novel that digs deep into identity and conflict: Jew vs. Jew, Jew vs. Gentile, Man vs. Woman, Fact vs. Fiction, Brother vs. Brother, Author vs. Character....It is also a deep dive into the moral responsibility of an author: How much can one derive from real life for material? Are characters in fiction deserving of any ethical treatment or are they just to be used and manipulated? You get the sense that the mature Roth struggled with all of these issues and he skillfully lays them out here with his usual blend of wit, sarcasm, irony and psychological insight. Why this guy never got the Nobel Prize is beyond me.

1 person found this helpful

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The most emotionally intelligent books

Roth does a very good job at getting to essence of what it is like to being a self facing an at times absurd world. Identity, purpose of self, ritual, culture, even whitewashing, this book has as modern a conversation as any, even though it was written in the 80s. It is not an easy book but the work is always philosophical one step ahead of itself, which makes for an enlightening experience.

1 person found this helpful

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Raw & Bold

Not for the faint hearted, politically correct properly groomed pretentious person. The boldness is straight, the rawness is on point. Take your best shot, still you'll like this.

1 person found this helpful

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humour and humanity

Listening to this marvellous humanist was an unadulterated joy. It provides an optimistic hiatus for the possibility of a fine person becoming the most powerful political leader while retaining humour and humanity.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

Intricately, ingeniously constructed plot with interesting characters, outrageous and hilarious the story was situations, and struggle for inner truths. And identity and meaningful relationships.

1 person found this helpful

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classic Roth

not necessarily the book of Roth to start with but the dialogues are classic roth

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. Matthew Le Fevre
  • 09-13-21

Roth at his finest

Zuckermann - wily worldly wordy and worthy - top writing from a top author - thoroughly recommended to all

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  • Miss Elizabeth M Watkins
  • 09-01-21

Fantastic. Engaging narration and great story.

Engaging narration and great story. Complex but easy to listen and take in. Recommended for Roth lovers and newbies.