It took a good 60 pages into this book before I really got interested in it. The main character isn't the most admirable and there didn't seem to be enough happening to make it interesting. After those first 60 pages of exposition, however, the book lured me in with its twists and turns and surprises. You never know exactly where the story is taking you and what you'll learn. By the end of the book, I wanted to read it again. It accurately captures our world, how we are shaped by it and how we shape it.
If you run in circles where heavy-hitting books are bandied about at lively cocktail parties, then you'll definitely want to make sure you've got The Human Stain checked off the list. Had it been less pedantic & preachy, I would definitely have enjoyed it more, but like most "serious" American authors, Roth takes himself too...seriously (which is why Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Tolstoy & Bulgakov rate so highly in my book: they know how to tell an insightful, "important" tale with humor & a light touch). Brace yourself for lengthy, erudite-to-pretentious passages that make you want to shout "yes, you're SMART already!!" along with some extremely touching and insightful passages, in particular, the one from which the book derives its title.
This is my new favorite book. The writing is superb. It carries you along on a picturesque journey of thought. I have seen the movie and so I knew "the secret." None the less, it was engrossing to discover how and why Coleman Silk became the person that he did. The reader is also introduced to supporting characters and given insights into their backgrounds and motivations. One of my favorite quotes, among many, is "For all that the world is full of people who go around believing they've got you or your neighbor figured out, there really is no bottom to what is not known."
Quite possibly the best book I have ever read. The language is incredible and the story poignant. The historical and social contexts the story is weaved in gives the story a 3-dimensional quality only Roth is able to achieve.
This was a very captivating book. The themes are fresh and unique. I've really never read another book like this. It is so ironic that the protagonist makes a decision to reject his African-American heritage to ive his life as a white male so that he can control his destiny but in the end the fact that he is known as a white male throws his life into chaos and, ultimately, destroys it. At times the book goes into stream of conciousness writing that I found to be a bit long and tedious but otherwise the book is just extremely interesting.
Wonderful book! Complex people caught in a situation not easily resolved. The "human stain" is that part of life that we cannot control. It is also about secrets and ambition. When we want something badly enough, sometimes we hurt others to get what we want. All of us are secret bearers and that is why this book speaks to the humanity of us all. Philip Roth knows how to write about people, their thoughts, their feelings, their insights. This is remarkable literature.
Professor Coleman Silk is such an intriguing character. His story grips the reader from the very start. The reader is pulled into the world of college academia where a black professor who has "passed for white" all his adult life is accused of being a racist towards blacks. A truly unforgettable read!
The woman at work who recommended this book to me has never missed yet. This is the story of an aging professor at a small New England college who makes an offhand remark about a couple of students cutting his class that is inadvertently taken as racist. He himself is black but since his youth has covered up his race and because of his light pigmentation has been accepted as a white man, much to the chagrin of his family. An oddball story but it is a very good book. You will not be disappointed.
Coleman Silk, an aging classics professor, 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 astonish his most virulent accuser.
A prestigious professor is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is lie, but the real truth about Professor Silk would astonish his most virulent accuser. For he has a secret, one which he has kept for 50 years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues and his friends. Winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award . Pulitzer prize-winning author of American Pastoral.