The Best American Novel of the Previous 25 Years
On I Married a Communist
“A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of the Work of Philip Roth”
Queens College, 28 April 2009
When I was invited to take part in this remarkable event—to celebrate, as my wife put it, the publication of “that book we all kept hidden so our parents wouldn’t know we were reading it”—I knew I wanted to talk about I Married a Communist. I wanted a chance to get at what makes the book so strong, so cruel, so final.
Along with American Pastoral and The Human Stain, this is one of Nathan Zuckerman’s listening books. “Occasionally now, looking back,” he says, “I think of my life as one long speech that I’ve been listening to... Talking to me doesn’t seem to present an obstacle to anyone. This is perhaps a consequence of my having gone around for years looking as if I needed talking to. But whatever the reason, the book of my life is a book of voices.”