Title Profile & Character Information

The Human Stain

Annotation
It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished even his most virulent accuser.

Coleman Silk has a secret, one which has been kept for fifty years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman. It is Zuckerman who stumbles upon Silk's secret and sets out to reconstruct the unknown biography of this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, and to understand how this ingeniously contrived life came unraveled. And to understand also how Silk's astonishing private history is, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, "magnificently" interwoven with "the larger public history of modern America."

Awards
2000  New York Times Editors' Choice
2001  PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
2000  National Jewish Book Awards


Author Notes
  In the 1990s Philip Roth won America's four major literary awards in succession. Patrimony received the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award, Operation Shylock the 1993 Pen/Faulkner Award, Sabbath's Theater the 1995 National Book Award, and American Pastoral the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. His next book, I Married a Communist, received the 1998 Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union. Previously he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Counter-life (1986) and the National Book Award for Goodbye, Columbus (1959). In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House.
Characters
NameSilk, Coleman
GenderMale
OccupationsDean of Faculty
 Professor
TraitsMarried
Father
Ex-welterweight boxer

NameZuckerman, Nathan
GenderMale
OccupationWriter

NameFarley, Faunia
GenderFemale
OccupationCleaning woman
TraitIlliterate

GenrePsychological
Sociological
Book tie-in
    --Movie
Fiction
TopicsHidden identities
Reinventing oneself
Racism
Infidelity
Scandal
Passing (Identity)
SettingAthena College
College/University


Series
  Postwar trilogy
1American pastoral
2I married a communist
3The Human stain