In this funny and chilling novel, the setting is a small town in the 1940s Midwest, and the subject is the heart of a wounded and ferociously moralistic young woman, one of those implacable American moralists whose "goodness" is a terrible disease.
When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her alcoholic failure of a father thrown in jail. Ever since then she has been trying to reform the men around her, even if that ultimately means destroying herself in the process. With his unerring portraits of Lucy and her hapless, childlike husband, Roy, Roth has created an uncompromising work of fictional realism, a vision of provincial American piety, yearning, and discontent that is at once pitiless and compassionate.
About the Author
Philip Roth is one of the most decorated writers in American history, having won the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and many more. He also won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union and in the same year received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. 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."
"High, careful tragedy, nasty as life, and Roth emerges...as a Dreiser who can write!" —Stanley Elkin
"Roth is a living master." —Harold Bloom, The New York Review of Books