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You are here: » Archives » Oxford Bookstore Review » Book Review - Nemesis by Philip Roth
Published on Sat, July 23, 2011 at 13:05 Hrs
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The name Nemesis quite ominously resonates the notion of God's interference with man's fate. In a trial to look deeper into the reason of nomenclature of this award winning piece of work, the word Nemesis means “Retributive justice in its execution” or in Greek mythology it refers to “The goddess of retributive justice or vengeance”. Philip Roth is well-known as a man who writes what soever he contemplates to write. He style is aboveboard and unabashed. Some find his writing vulgar, some find it too much to take yet in reality Roth is rather a genius of words. The adjective Nemesis shows us a very different Roth. This piece of work stands out particularly because the warmth and candor  even in painful tenderness it portrays.


Nemesis is penned on the backdrop of 1944 Newark, which records a sad number of polio cases, when twenty-six states reported 27,000 cases of polio out of which  resulted in more than 6,000 deaths. Almost 2,000 children in Newark contracted the deathly, crippling infection. The protagonist of the novel is Bucky Cantor, a playground director. His poor vision left him to his current fate while rest of the men went to fight in the War. Mr. Cantor's fight with his own fate, his own nemesis is what The novel Nemesis is about. The novel is set in the sweltering summer of 1944, narrated by a child, Arnie Mesnikoff at the playground who meets Cantor years later only to learn how things went about in Cantor's life. The polio vaccine licensed only in 1962, left the Newark community in utter bewilderment and baffled at the impending doom. He learns about Cantor's strife with the deadly polio outbreak. Roth does an amazingly convincing job to create the atmosphere of horror and terror during the polio outbreak in 1944. Polio at that particular point of time was one of the unknown fatal diseases which had no medical remedy then, Children, men women, all crippled under this devilish curse. Its Roth's 32nd book, even when most authors fail to deliver the same charm after writing a hoard of books, Roth does not disappoint. Probably the best part about Roth's writing is how he  is able to fully realize the account of an individual to stand up for something beyond the ordinary and more profound – a community, a nation, and of all for the sake of humanity.


Make no presumptions regular Roth readers, this piece of Roth's work is nothing like what you expect...the sullen tenderness of thought and strong disposition of fate in man's life is what makes Nemesis one of a kind read. The setting of the novel is very Roth yet the subject line of the novel is something that will force you to think that probably this 88 year old literary genius blooms every decade to deliver his best pieces of work. Nemesis is not Roth's first bloom in the Man Booker Prize Garden; Bucky Cantors fate weaves out the universal story man's eternal war to conquer his destiny. The decisions he takes, the choices he makes do maketh the man he is...Mr. Cantor's dilemmas, his sorrows, his agony is what gives the story the taste of life.



hilip Roth

This introduction is for those who have only heard of the phenomena named Philip Roth only after he has been awarded the Man Booker Prize for his Novel, Nemesis. Philip Roth is one man who is never afraid to write what he likes. He struck to fame in 1959 with his Novella Goodbye, Columbus. Goodbye, Columbus won him critical acclaim for his irreverent and humorous portrayal of Jewish-American Life which earned him a National Book Award and awards like National Book Critics Circle, PEN/Faulkner Award, Pulitzer Prize, United Kingdom's WH Smith Literary Award, and so on.



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