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Indignation [Kindle Edition]

Philip Roth
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Against the backdrop of the Korean War, a young man faces life’s unimagined chances and terrifying consequences.

It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding, intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio’s Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at the local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hard-working neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad -- mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in every corner for his beloved boy.

As the long-suffering, desperately harassed mother tells her son, the father’s fear arises from love and pride. Perhaps, but it produces too much anger in Marcus for him to endure living with his parents any longer. He leaves them and, far from Newark, in the midwestern college, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.

Indignation, Philip Roth’s twenty-ninth book, is a story of inexperience, foolishness, intellectual resistance, sexual discovery, courage, and error. It is a story told with all the inventive energy and wit Roth has at his command, at once a startling departure from the haunted narratives of old age and experience in his recent books and a powerful addition to his investigations of the impact of American history on the life of the vulnerable individual.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: Enter once again into the echo chamber of Philip Roth's memory and imagination. In the second year of the Korean War, a butcher's son--a straight-A student wound tight with aspiration--flees Newark and his father's increasingly unhinged fears for his safety. Heading midwest, he finds a strange collegiate land of fraternities, football heroes, V-neck pullover sweaters and white buckskin shoes, panty raids, and mandatory chapel services, and, most startlingly, a young woman with desires of her own. Like another fiction grandmaster of his generation, Alice Munro, Roth seems able to spin infinite surprising tales from a few familiar building blocks, and in Indignation, his 25th novel, he has constructed a taut, haunting (and, as always, funny) story that ranks among his best. Reading at times like a buttoned-down Portnoy's Complaint (if it's possible to imagine such a thing), Indignation records a series of small explosions against '50s propriety and the dire consequences they lead to, capturing the misery of desire amid repression, along with the greater terror of being trapped in endless, relentless memory. --Tom Nissley

From Publishers Weekly

Roth's 29th book tells the tale of young Marcus Messner, a boy forced to attend a pastoral, conservative college because of his fathers apprehensions about life in 1951 New Jersey. Narrator Dick Hill delivers a sturdy performance that manages to bring Messner to life, but never really captures the listeners attention as he normally does. As talented as Hill is, theres something lacking in his characterization. He reads with a droning, slightly whiny voice that sometimes grates. Hill always seems on the verge of losing himself into the tale only to yank himself back from the edge at the last moment. He has a knack for bringing characters to life, but here he sounds tired. A Houghton Mifflin hardcover (Reviews, May 12). (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 528 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307473406
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 16, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003IEJZT2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,502 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There Will Be Blood October 2, 2008
Butchery and blood are recurring images in Philip Roth's scalding new novel which is probably his darkest comedy since Sabbath's Theater. The images are shocking yet appropriate since this little novel deals with a big subject: what someone once called "the meat-grinder of history." Many of Roth's familiar elements are here. The naive young Jewish hero meets up with an unstable gentile girl in the 1950's and farce ensues. But this is 1951 and the Korean War hovers over the story like a thundercloud. I wasn't very enthusiastic about Roth's last couple of novels which seemed rather flaccid to me. But this one has suspense, narrative drive and storytelling fury that recall his great "American" novels of 10 years ago, only in concentrated form. "Indignation" left me wrung out, like you hope a novel will do for you.

Marcus Messner announces on page 54 that he is dead (this is no great spoiler, believe me.) The dead narrator is a time-honored narrative strategy in film noir (see Sunset Boulevard (Special Collector's Edition) and the novels of Jim Thompson, especially Savage Night) and it's interesting to see how Roth uses it. Although there may be an alternative explanation for Marcus' state; check the chapter titles. As he tells his story we learn how he came to die. Practically driven out of his home by his loving but suddenly paranoid kosher butcher father, he flees to go to college in the same town as Sherwood Anderson's
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It needed something more October 26, 2009
I have always enjoyed Philip Roth's work and this was no exception. The plot was interesting and characters vivid. The tale of a Jewish boy, who is the first generation to attend the school is universal in many ways. The inability to fit in, the cultural issues and the non functional family are something most of us can relate to. The reason I gave this book three stars is because I felt that there was something missing. It was almost like in the last part of the book, author got bored of the book and just wanted to end it. The end was abrupt and almost incomplete. However, maybe that is the moral of the book - the end is abrupt and there is no real plan in life.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books of all time April 27, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recently picked up this little book--my first exposure to Philip Roth--and was completely blown away. Someone described Roth as writing "perfect novels," and I think that this might just have been perfect. Short, concise, yet rich and descriptive. When you read this book, you are carried away into a different time, when things were simpler, yet so much more complex. You connect with the narrator because we've all been where he is--or at least, we've all experienced similar things--horrible roommates, rocky relationships with parents and authority figures, first love, first break-ups, and crazy adolescents.

The ending caught me by surprise--and the sheer irony of it all reminded me of life itself--no matter what happens, or what we do, life just marches on... Sometimes in the way we least expect it.

Great book, would certainly recommend.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indignation - my take December 27, 2008
Do we each have a turning point or series of turning points in our lives that lead us to our fate? Or do we simply have things happen to us, in combination with our childhoods, our makeup, our genetics and the world events which catch us up, which in all their minutiae add up to "fate?" This is a small perfect book about which one should say nothing so that its progression and its surprises are not telegraphed in advance!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prolific Roth Keeps Rolling October 22, 2009
Unlike some Roth books, in which he seems to be outrageous for the sole purpose of provoking the reader, this book can stand with his best work. It sits aside The Human Stain as a personal favorite of mine. He seemlessly weaves the the story of the main character into the historical backdrop of the Korean War, working in the timeless themes of parent-child relationships, love, and the human desire to make sense of the chaos around them. It served as an inspiration for my book, Life and Life Only. Roth seems in a hurry to write as much as he can while he can, yet the writings of his recent years are carefully crafted and a joy to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Write a Novel June 13, 2009
One of the best of 2008 for sure. Philip Roth provides the reader with an example of how to write a novel with perfect economy so rarely seen in modern overblown fiction- no matter how entertaining. In this little book are all the essentials: history past and present in vivid color, characters one can see inside and out, psychology of choice, life's vicissitudes, humor, pathos, reflection. Nothing is unnecessary here- all moves with perfect and interesting cadence. One is rooting for these people, while fearing the glint of the knife and the red of blood which surely will follow. Perfect.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Indignation" December 22, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition
Have you ever felt so angry at someone or something that this anger consumed your every thought and action? Philip Roth has once more created a believable and memorable character here. Poor Marcus Messner, a victim of indignation. But who is the enemy here? Is it his parents, the college administrators, his roommates, or his girlfriend? Should you feel sorry for Marcus for the fear and pressures put upon him by authority figures, politics, the Korean war, religion, and sex? Would you react the same way if you were Marcus? A quick and worthwhile read, with much to reflect upon especially if you, like me, pictured yourself in similar situations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars love, loss
Roth wrote an intense story of coming of age that has stayed in my mind and left me pondering my own experiences with conflict, love, loss, and growing up.
Published 25 days ago by Lynn Fox
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Liked it
Published 1 month ago by Marty Smilan
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Dark Dark Dark - No thank you!
Published 3 months ago by sashatagger
2.0 out of 5 stars The lack of stars is a reflection of the audio, not of the book
Let me make it clear that this is a review of Hill's reading, not of Roth's novella, which I find to be a masterwork, a short one, but a masterwork nonetheless. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MACLEAR
4.0 out of 5 stars Consequences
"indignation," due to its length is probably more of a novella than a novel, but there is a lot packed into this depiction of 1950 America. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Sam Sattler
4.0 out of 5 stars Martha's folly, which art in heaven
I sympathize with Marcus...I admire his honesty and his intelligence--but I can't help thinking he brought it on himself. Read more
Published 8 months ago by dallin malmgren
5.0 out of 5 stars I bought it by mistake (had it already like all of Roth's books)
I bought it by mistake (had it already like all of Roth's books). It's fantastic, and I gave it to a friend.
Published 8 months ago by HENRY FERBER
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another outstanding book by Philip Roth.
Published 8 months ago by Bruce Theunissen
4.0 out of 5 stars Ended too soon...
I've been reading Philip Roth's books for over 35 years.
This story just ended too soon. I had to look at my kindle to make sure it had really ended.
Published 11 months ago by Sylvia Jasso
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't read any reviews and jump right in!
This is a great book that is hard not to give away! The element of surprise is played well throughout the book.
Published 11 months ago by elisasol
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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.

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