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The Dying Animal (Movie Tie-In Edition) (Vintage International) Paperback – July 22, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307454886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307454881
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,166,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eros and mortality are the central themes of Roth's frank, unsparing and curious new novella. It's curious not only because of its short form (new for Roth), but because he seems to have assumed the mantle of Saul Bellow, writing pages of essay-like exposition on contemporary social phenomena and advancing the narrative through introspection rather than dialogue. The protagonist is again David Kepesh (of The Breast and The Professor of Desire), who left his wife and son during the sexual revolution vowing to indulge his erotic needs without encumbrance. Kepesh is now an eminent 70-year-old cultural critic and lecturer at a New York college, recalling a devastating, all-consuming affair he had eight years before with voluptuous 24-year-old Consuela Castillo, a graduate student and daughter of a prosperous Cuban ‚migr‚ family. From the beginning, Kepesh is oppressed by the "unavoidable poignancy" of their age difference, and he suffers with the jealous knowledge that this liaison will likely be his last; even when locked in the throes of sexual congress, a death's head looms in his imagination. The end of the affair casts him into a long depression. When Consuela contacts him again eight years later, on the New Year's Eve of the millennium, their reunion is doubly ironic in the Roth tradition. Consuela has devastating news about her body, and it's obvious that retribution is at hand for the old libertine. Roth's candor about an elderly man's consciousness that he's "a dying animal" (from the Yeats poem) is unsentimental, and his descriptions of the lovers' erotic acts push the envelope in at least one scene involving menstruation. The novella is as brilliantly written, line by line, as any book in Roth's oeuvre, and it's bound to be talked about with gusto. (May 18) Forecast: Roth's audience is faithful, and the erotic explicitness of this book may attract other readers who have not tackled the author's longer novels. But his longtime refusal to do talk shows or give interviews will as usual limit publicity efforts, and it remains to be seen whether such a narrowly focused story will sell with the rapidity of Roth's longer novels.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Roth at his most erotic, which really says something. A sixtyish cultural critic who has never managed to commit he's still enjoying the sexual revolution gets all tangled up in an affair with the voluptuous young Consuela.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

In the 1990s Philip Roth won America's four major literary awards in succession: the National Book Critics Circle Award for Patrimony (1991), the PEN/Faulkner Award for Operation Shylock (1993), the National Book Award for Sabbath's Theater (1995), and the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for American Pastoral (1997). He won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union for I Married a Communist (1998); in the same year he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. Previously he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Counterlife (1986) and the National Book Award for his first book, Goodbye, Columbus (1959). In 2000 he published The Human Stain, concluding a trilogy that depicts the ideological ethos of postwar America. For The Human Stain Roth received his second PEN/Faulkner Award as well as Britain's W. H. Smith Award for the Best Book of the Year. In 2001 he received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, given every six years "for the entire work of the recipient." In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians Award for "the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003--2004." In 2007 Roth received the PEN/Faulkner Award for Everyman.

Customer Reviews

I didn't feel in suspense or dying to read the next chapter.
For Plato, love is painful, love destroys who we were -- but it is also the only thing that can make us whole, and can make us greater than we once were.
I admire Roth's power if expression he writes the most perfect English sentences.
Marianna Pekar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on June 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
It's useful to think of "The Dying Animal" as a coda to Roth's magnificent trilogy of books on post-war America--"American Pastoral", "I Married a Communist", and "The Human Stain." It functions much the same way as "The Prague Orgy" did as that novella summed up his earlier "Zuckerman Bound" trilogy. The themes of the earlier books are cast in unexpected new ways that show even more light. The protagonist of this new book is Kepesh, not Zuckerman, but the preoccupations of this book are the same as the American trilogy--how do you reinvent yourself like a good American who can supposedly just shuck off the past; what is the price you pay for that spiritual reformation (or deformation.) This David Kepesh's history is somewhat altered from the Kepesh of "The Breast" and "The Professor of Desire"; he now has a middle-aged son who hates him and one somewhat shadowy ex-wife who he abandoned during the sexual upheaval of the 60's. Otherwise he remains the same; a hedonistic moralist intoxicated by female beauty (especially breasts: he loves a voluptuary Modigliani painting of a female nude that appears on the jacket of this novel.) In his sixties he begins an affair with Consuela, a decorous young Cuban-American woman who presses all the right buttons for the aging professor. Intertwined with the story is a marvelous debate on the meaning of the cultural revolution of the '60's and '70's. Kepesh is predictably king-hell for freedom, but his son is a constant unwelcome reminder of the damage done.Read more ›
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Eileen G. on August 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a work that is needle-sharp and poignant - and almost frightening in places. I read it in one sitting and was deeply moved. There is great tenderness and an aching acceptance of people and their confusions and inevitable weaknesses (and power) in it. Its several digressions (from its loose plot) are trenchant and valuable - and come as something of a pleasant surprise. As in so many of Roth's books several erotic themes predominate: they are Roth's currency, and his way into his psyche, and into the hearts and minds of his interesting characters. (For example, Roth never confuses sex with food.) In this layered story Roth takes on sickness, aging, and impending death. He intimately explores people who refuse to go quietly, who rail and protest and want to hang on to life and all of its exquisite pleasures - which for Roth, are frequently erotic. Rothian eros is so much more than sexual acts, but rather is so often at the heart of the matter, and the vantage point from which his readers might begin to understand the world.
A great book that is thoroughly worth reading.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By DocCaligari on March 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a review of _The Dying Animal_ by Philip Roth (in the Vintage Books paperback edition).
A friend recommended this novella to me, and I'm very glad she did. It really isn't going too far to describe it (as one published review did) as a "masterpiece."
The narrator is "David Kepesh," a sexagenarian college professor and minor celebrity intellectual (he has a PBS show) who routinely sleeps with selected female students from his advanced seminar (wisely waiting until after the grades have been turned in -- although nowadays only a "David Kepesh" or a Philip Roth could get away with even this). Kepesh describes (to an unidentified interlocutor, who remains silent until the book's final page) the trajectory of his affair with a Cuban-American student, Consuela Castillo. Along the way, there are interesting (and relevant to the story) digressions on America's sexual revolution of the 60's and 70's, the colonial-era sexual and religious radical Thomas Morton, the surreal nature of the Y2K celebrations, etc.
This is one of those lovely books that works on many different levels. First, it is a funny book. Those with delicate sensibilities will be offended by some of the humor, but it's hard not to laugh. This is also (unsurprisingly for a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist) a well written book: "That body is still new to her, she's still trying it out, thinking it through, a bit like a kid walking the streets with a loaded gun and deciding whether he's packing it to protect himself or to begin a life of crime" (p. 4).
But what most engaged me was how Roth uses the novel to explore some of the thorny issues that surround human sexuality. Let's face it: sex is complicated. Power is part of what complicates it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steve on August 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Closer to three-and-a-half stars. An amazing thing happened to Philip Roth in the 1990s. While his contemporaries--Updike, Styron and Mailer--were either hibernating or spinning their wheels, Roth was reinventing himself. His novels of the '80s were concerned primarily with writing--that is, the writer as narrator, and about sex; and though at least one of the novels ("The Counterlife") was very fine, Roth's books seemed rather narrow in scope. But beginning with his memoir "Patrimony" in '91 and continuing on, Roth majorly reinvented his fiction. His fictional landscapes have expanded. He has moved outside the "writing about writing" trap so many highbrow authors fall into, and has written about the world around him. His prose is as indignant, as over-the-top (sometimes), as funny as ever--but his literary scope is much wider. Surely this is why his latest novels have gained a wide readership and all of America's major literary awards.

"The Dying Animal", at first glance, seems a throwback to the Roth of the '80s. It's a book about sex, no question. The author is an elderly man with a fondness for young women (who somehow find him irresistible) and a seemingly inexhaustible sexual appetite. All of it seems recycled (and, given the narrator's age, unbelievable), until one realizes that Roth is treating these themes in a very different way. The deep sadness that runs through this novel is relatively new to Roth's writing and appears to have originated in his '91 memoir, "Patrimony." I know it's dangerous to make inferences about authors given their written product (Zuckerman taught us that, if nothing else!
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