What kind of choices fatally shape a life? How does the individual withstand the onslaught of circumstance? These are the dark questions that animate Nemeses, the quartet of thematically related short novels that are published here together for the first time in this final volume of The Library of America’s definitive edition of Philip Roth’s collected works. Everyman (2006) is the sparse and affecting story of one man’s lifelong skirmish with mortality. Set against the backdrop of the Korean War, Indignation (2008) is the extraordinary narrative of a young man struggling against the conformity of McCarthy-era America and his father’s overwhelming fear. In The Humbling (2009), aging actor Simon Axler embarks on a risky and aberrant affair in a desperate attempt to recoup his lost artistic gifts. And in Nemesis (2010), Roth offers an exacting portrait of the emotions—fear and anger, bewilderment and grief—bred by a polio epidemic in Newark in the summer of 1944.
Philip Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by The Library of America. He has received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the National Medal of Arts, and the Gold Medal in Fiction, the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.