adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $24.47

Buy for $24.47

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished even his most virulent accuser.

Coleman Silk has a secret, one which has been kept for 50 years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman. It is Zuckerman who stumbles upon Silk's secret and sets out to reconstruct the unknown biography of this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, and to understand how this ingeniously contrived life came unraveled. And to understand also how Silk's astonishing private history is, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, "magnificently" interwoven with "the larger public history of modern America."

As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Philip Roth's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Judith Thurman about the life and work of Philip Roth – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.

This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©2001 Philip Roth (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"In American literature today, there's Philip Roth, and then there's everybody else." (Chicago Tribune)
“By turns unnerving, hilarious, and sad…. It is a book that shows how the public zeitgeist can shape, even destroy, an individual’s life…. Not only a philosophic bookend to American Pastoral but a large and stirring book as well. (The New York Times)

What listeners say about The Human Stain

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    586
  • 4 Stars
    271
  • 3 Stars
    104
  • 2 Stars
    39
  • 1 Stars
    38
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    573
  • 4 Stars
    242
  • 3 Stars
    62
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    23
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    545
  • 4 Stars
    213
  • 3 Stars
    84
  • 2 Stars
    42
  • 1 Stars
    30

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

HUMAN STAIN

Figuratively, Phillip Roth skins an onion in his book, The Human Stain. He exposes the insidious nature of discrimination in a story about a college professor’s life.

In a Buddhist’ way, Roth’s story stings the eyes of wisdom and the material world. The Human Stain offers layers of truth about human nature; Roth gives examples like President Clinton’s contretemps with Monica Lewinsky; stories of a “free” but tainted press; the many forms of discrimination, and incidents of female sexual exploitation. Each peel of the onion reveals a layer of stinging truth about human beings in a material world.

By the end of The Human Stain, one is reminded of the biblical phrase, “he who is without sin can cast the first stone”. Roth’s story infers every lie (and we are all liars) leaves a stain; every human experience leaves an imprint, some of which are stains; others, the building blocks of life.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Less Dramatic than the Title Implies

The title, and Roth's prestige, had me thinking this was going to be an extremely heavy-handed novel and was actually relieved when I found the plot and the characters deep enough to swim in but not be drowned by. I thought about them long after I finished the book and I found it all to be paced very nicely. I had no trouble getting into the story at its start and then when I realized it was about something entirely different than I had first supposed I was hooked. I know this review may be a little abstract but I don't want to mislead or give anything away. This book is a window into a time and place--a life much like any other where ordinary things happen and the main characters and the society we share with them are what are fascinating--not some epic drama about a Big Event.

I did not find the academic parts of this book pretentious or inaccessible because it seemed Roth was pointing an almost self-deprecating finger at institutionalized education. He did this both through the narrator's character--which was one of literary accomplishment and social seclusion--and also through his unfavorable depiction of (some) university politics.

Anyway, that's not what makes this story wonderful nor at all what it is about. It brings questions of identity gently to the surface through dark water and then suddenly yanks them free for all to see and poke at and inquire upon--all while maintaining this conspiratorial relationship between the narrator and the reader, as if we are the only ones in on the secret and must ponder our own choices and identities alone.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Spooky how Roth bends the edge of the possible

Reading Roth is almost a spooky, sexual experience. I say that knowing this will sound absurd, trite and probably hyperbolic. But with Roth, his words are imbued with an almost carnal power, a spectral courage, energy and life. IT is like watching an absurdly talented musician do things with an instrument/with sound that bends the edge of possible.

Reading Roth, I can understand how the audience in Paganini 's time wanted to burn the man for witchcraft, feared the man for his deal with the Devil. I'm not sure who Roth sold his soul to, but Roth's run of novels: Operation Shylock (1993) Sabbath's Theater (1995) >> American Pastoral (1997) >> I Married a Communist (1998) >> The Human Stain (2000) can only be thought of as the greatest series of novels produced by ANY writer at anytime. Maybe Shakespeare had a better run. Maybe Proust. Maybe. For me, these five novels, ending with 'The Human Stain' are the apex of 20th Century writing. Spooky.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Insightful Analysis of Human Mature and Society

I have always wanted to read the Human Stain and had never gotten around to it. No wish I got here sooner. Roth does and excellent job of weaving together disparate members of the human community and looking at the same event from their widely varying points of view. The novel causes reflection on events in ones own life as it is universal in nature. The narrator only enhances an exceptional work of art.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very high brow

The story is extremely well written with an admirable command of the language.
Do not listen to this if you are conservative in your beliefs and how you live your life.
It truly states the idiocy of political correctness and how it effects our centers of higher education. Lunacy.
It also speaks to how highly educated people screw up their lives by doing something primal. They not having the real life experiences to determine right from wrong. But, today becomes normal.
Dennis B. Does an outstanding narration of this story. I enjoy his inflection and slightly irreverent tone. He is one of my favorites .
I seek his narrations of subjects that intrigue me.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Hope the movie is better.

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

No.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not sure yet.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The story was interesting, I must admit, but the author keeps going on and on about pointless things. At times, I completely forgot about the subject at hand.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful! If you love Philip Roth

It is a typical Philip Roth book. Powerful, well-written, has multiple narratives, presents different points of view.

It is never about who is write or wrong in the conflict. It is not "who'd done it". Roth tells you how the story ends in the first part of the book. No surprises in actions. It is the characters who surprise you after you get a deeper glimpse into their internal world.

You need to get used to the narrator, the slight frustration I had went away after the first 10 min.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very good!

What can I say? This is Philip Roth, and this is one of his most famous novels. A very intricate, intriguing story which absorbs the reader (in this case the listener) without any fail. The reader is somewhat restrained but in a positive way. He doesn't try to imitate too many characters as some audio book performers use to. I really enjoyed this audio book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

If you love lots of pontification....

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If there were more action.

Has The Human Stain turned you off from other books in this genre?

I like books about this subject but once the characters and problems are extablished, the story needs to go forward at more than a snail's pace.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Thought-provoking

Good story. Very thought provoking. I wish I hadn't heard the narrator swallow so much. :/

4 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mark
  • Mark
  • 07-01-21

Monumental Achievement

Jam packed with amazing characters designed to provoke thought, this novel is as resonant now as it was when it was written. From commenting on Political Correctness to what it foreshadows in respect of Woke and Cancel Culture this is a book for the ages. I would love to have Roth's scintillating take on the current state of politics and culture wars. I suspect he would not be impressed. Beautifully read by Dennis Boutsikaris, this is a truly great novel that, through the medium of fiction, reveals great truths about the human condition.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Susan Lynch
  • Susan Lynch
  • 02-01-21

Tantalising

I loved it! Could not put it down. Very interesting take on identity from various prospectives.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kindle Customer
  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-22-20

Class.

Brilliantly narrarated by Dennis Boutsikaris, this is one of my favourite books by Roth. I will almost certainly listen to this one again in the future. The narrative practically demands an second listening just so you can appreciate the irony and foreshadowing. Truly brillant.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Arty1
  • Arty1
  • 05-13-20

Fantastic introduction to Roth

This was my first Roth novel and what a fantastic introduction. I would love to watch the movie version now. He covers the roles of identity, race, age, sex with the backdrop of the 1998 Lewinsky affair and its effects on the American psyche. The narration was perfectly suited to the novel, but the French pronunciation was incorrect and excruciating to hear in many places so that needs correcting. Apart from that, the narrator was a perfect match for the novel's intellectual pitch and its range of voices.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tom
  • Tom
  • 11-23-18

interesting read

overall good and memorable. I'd choose it over American Pastoral (not that these are the only 2 Roth choices). Roth has a way of labouring points ad nauseum and over-over-analysing psychological states, which I find exhausting. But some may enjoy that, and irrespective it's a great work