By Philip Roth
Completed June 29, 2011
Indignation is Philip Roth’s 25th novel. Sit back and think about that for a moment. What an amazing writing career.
I like Philip Roth because he always sweeps me into his story, and that’s certainly the case in Indignation. In this short novel, we meet Markus – a straight-A Jewish kid from Newark who transfers to a small, conservative college in Ohio to escape his father’s neurotic fears. Markus’ dad worries that he will fall into harm’s way – that one little misstep will result in great harm. While, as a reader, you shake your head at Dad’s irrational thoughts, it provides an interesting foreshadowing of things to come.
While at Winesburg College, Markus is knee-deep in classic American ideals ala 1950’s America. Big cars, panty raids and required chapel attendance all mark Markus’ college experience. Markus has a hard time adjusting to Winesburg life. He’s successful at academics but entanglements with his roommates and a fling with a troubled girl all leave Markus reeling from the real-life aspects of being far from home.
With subtle social and political undertones, Indignation is a fast read that is a feast to your mind’s eye. This may not be Roth’s best work, but it’s a good story. ( )