The Ghost Writer
First edition cover
|Publisher||Farrar, Straus & Giroux|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ4.R8454 Gh PS3568.O855|
|Followed by||Zuckerman Unbound|
The Ghost Writer (1979) is the first novel by Philip Roth to be narrated by Nathan Zuckerman, one of Roth's putative fictional alter egos, and constitutes the first book in his Zuckerman Bound trilogy. The novel touches on themes common to many Roth works, including identity, the responsibilities of authors to their subjects, and the condition of Jews in America. Parts of the novel are a reprise of Anne Frank's Diary.
Nathan Zuckerman is a promising young writer who spends a night in the home of E.I. Lonoff (a portrait, it has been argued, of Bernard Malamud or Henry Roth or a composite of both), an established author whom Zuckerman idolizes. Also staying in the Lonoff home is Amy Bellette, a young woman with a vague past whom the narrator apparently comes to suspect as being Anne Frank, living in the United States anonymously, having survived the Holocaust. It only becomes apparent at the end of this section that this conjecture is part of a fiction composed by Zuckerman.
In 1984 a television adaptation was made of the book in the UK. It was directed by Tristram Powell and starred Rose Arrick, Claire Bloom, Sam Wanamaker, Cecile Mann, MacIntyre Dixon, Mark Linn-Baker, Ralph Morse, Joseph Wiseman, and Patricia Fellows.
The book was widely praised at publication. In The New Yorker, John Updike described Roth as "Always one of the most intelligent and energetic of American writers, he has now become one of the most scrupulous." In The New York Times Book Review, critic Harold Bloom said of the three collected Zuckerman novels, "'Zuckerman Bound' merits something reasonably close to the highest level of esthetic praise for tragicomedy."
The Pulitzer committee for fiction selected The Ghost Writer for the prize in 1980. The Pulitzer board, which has final say over awarding the prize, overrode their decision and chose Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song instead. The book was also a finalist for the 1980 National Book Award.
- Moraru, Christian (2005) Memorious discourse: reprise and representation in postmodernism, pp.224-5
- Joshua Cohen, "A Life Torn Between Myth and Fact," The Forward, October 2, 2007
- John Updike, Odd Jobs, New York: Knopf, 1991. p. 365.
- Harold Bloom, "His Long Ordeal By Laughter," The New York Times Book Review, May 19, 1985.
- McDowell, Edwin (11 May 1984). "Publishing: Pulitzer Controversies". The New York Times. p. C26.
- "National Book Awards - 1980". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Michiko Kakutani, "Seeking at Moral at the End of the Tale," The New York Times, October 2, 2007.