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Roth’s melancholy meditation

Philip Roth's new novel confronts isolation, death and, almost uniquely in his oeuvre, selfishness. But is it time for him to return to the life force?

By Erik Tarloff   June 2006

Everyman by Philip Roth Jonathan Cape, £10

A few American artistic rebels live long enough to acquire an aura of respectability simply by virtue of their survival, but it’s relatively rare. Conventional critical circles in the US don’t, by and large, feel impelled to accept and co-opt their problem children. In France, such people might, as their careers wind down, be elected to the Académie française, and in Britain, if sufficient smoke has been allowed to clear, they might even find themselves on the receiving end of a knighthood; in the US, though, it is impossible to imagine the likes…

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