Thursday, May 14, 2009

A letter to Philip Roth


You don't know me (nor I you). But I am one of your legions of readers; and have been for many years. I think it's safe to say that your fiction has helped shape and deepen my understanding of the human condition.

I recently finished reading Indignation, your latest novel, and I just wanted to thank you. For being so eloquent and witty, for posing the essential (existential?) questions, for screaming our insecurities into the night and for showing us how a small community can be a microcosm for the rest of the world.

Your book tells the story of a smart young man from Newark who comes of age in the 1950s. He ventures from his cloistered Jewish-centric hometown to college in the blandly-dangerous Midwest because he desires to escape his family's narrow beliefs; he wants to be worldly and craves mainstream acceptance. Yet despite his best attempts to be himself, to excel academically, circumstances cause him to make choices that lead to an unfortunate path.

There are few artistic events I look forward to more than one of your books. You never fail to challenge my curiosity, spark an intellectual debate, entertain and make me laugh (and cry) at life's unavoidable triumphs, mistakes and yes, indignities.

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