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Extended Audio Sample The Counterlife Audiobook, by Philip Roth Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.54 out of 53.54 out of 53.54 out of 53.54 out of 53.54 out of 5 3.54 (24 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Philip Roth Narrator: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Nathan Zuckerman Series Release Date: October 2016 ISBN: 9781504744027
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The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives to alter seemingly irreversible destinies. Wherever they may find themselves, the characters of The Counterlife are tempted unceasingly by the prospect of an alternative existence that can reverse their fate.

Illuminating these lives in transition and guiding us through the book’s evocative landscapes, familiar and foreign, is the mind of the novelist Nathan Zuckerman. His is the skeptical, enveloping intelligence that calculates the price that’s paid in the struggle to change personal fortune and reshape history, whether in a dentist’s office in suburban New Jersey, a tradition-bound English Village in Gloucestershire, a church in London’s West End, or a tiny desert settlement in Israel’s occupied West Bank.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Magnificent…I hope The Counterlife felt, as Mr. Roth wrote it, like a triumph, because that is certainly how it reads to me.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “No other writer combines such a surface of colloquial relaxation and even dishevelment with such a dense load of mediating intelligence….Roth has never written more scrupulously or, in spots, more lovingly.”

    New Yorker

  • “Roth is a comic genius….In this book (wonderfully sharp, worryingly intense) he is an electrifier.”

    Atlantic

  • “Disenfranchisement, re-creation, and the severe guilt of independence are the I beams of Roth’s Zuckerman books—of which this is one—but never has the ceiling vaulted so high, the aim been so nervy…Certainly Roth’s most complex, ambitious work—and one of his best.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Roth has written a puzzle, but one with passion and purpose.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mary | 1/12/2014

    " Couldn't get into it at all. Couldn't relate. Only read 40 or 50 pages. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Wwpray | 1/11/2014

    " They don't get any worse than this one. It was revolting. Only got about 1/5 or 1/4 of the way through & gave up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom Bevilacqua | 1/3/2014

    " While I don't feel like this book is talked about as much, or held in as high regard, as Roth's other work (particularly among the other Zuckerman books), I thought The Counterlife was a very interesting and well-written piece of fiction. Much of the book is concerned with Jewish identity and identity in general, continuing in the same line as the preceding Zuckerman novels. However, this novel has a decidedly "meta" quality to it, as Roth is also examining the nature of writing and fiction and looking at the ways fiction is drawn from everyday life and how the two (life and fiction) are wrapped up together. Roth addresses these topics in a much more direct way in The Counterlife, but that does not mean in a heavy handed way. These concerns are given a greater prominence and engaged with in more interesting ways both from a formal perspective as well as thematically. I would definitely recommend reading this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah | 12/17/2013

    " Not one of Roth's most famous, but I loved this book. It is about alternative realities to two men's lives. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jess | 11/29/2013

    " I really enjoyed the first several chapters. I was intrigued by all the switching around of circumstances and not knowing what was "real". My problem was with the last chapter. After you know what is going on and what the "true" circumstances are, the last chapter seems pointless and superfluous. And ridiculously meta. I think it went too far in that regard. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dmitri | 11/16/2013

    " I think this is my favorite Philip Roth book so far (I've read about half of his novels). I wouldn't say that there was anything that made me laugh aloud but there were more than a few times that I grinning to myself during this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 10/28/2013

    " What the brothers in this novel have in common with most of Auter's leading men is a relation to another that is more like an alter-ego/rival than another man. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ted Krever | 10/16/2013

    " An amazing experience, of shifting perspectives and identity and meaning. About storytelling and Life. And Roth of course, who never leaves himself alone or bothers with the truth. What more could you want? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerry | 6/13/2013

    " Nothing happens in this book; it's just a lot of people talking at each other. Arguing, with varying degrees of civility. Sometimes it was really interesting, and sometimes it was pretty boring. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Keeley | 3/20/2012

    " Three stars up until the last chapeter, and then I could not carry on any further. The last chapter completely lost me, though I did like the twist that most of the book was actually a novel in itself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve Forman | 2/14/2012

    " Top 20 ever "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fred | 10/24/2011

    " This is not a great story it is four great stories. Roth plays with narrative offering several different resolutions for the same conflict. In the hands of a less skilled writer it might be confusing but it is never that way with Roth. Certain scenes -- many scenes -- are unforgettable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian Gatz | 5/17/2011

    " Postmodern literature at its best. Variations on three or so central themes: brotherhood, Jewish identity, sense-of-self. Best line: 'I am a theater and nothing more than a theater'. One of the best Roth's I've read--certainly one of the most intricately composed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mariah | 5/14/2011

    " I think I should be embarrassed that I didn't give this book more stars; if there were 1/2 stars I'd lob it another 1/2 star. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ted | 4/19/2011

    " An amazing experience, of shifting perspectives and identity and meaning. About storytelling and Life. And Roth of course, who never leaves himself alone or bothers with the truth. What more could you want? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 3/18/2011

    " More successful as philosophy than fiction.. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 12/10/2010

    " Tried to explain the ending of this book to a friend and gave up. Some really good characters though. Especially the airline interrogator. Only for true lovers of Roth. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Patricia | 11/6/2010

    " Last book I read by Roth. He has a way with words and it´s a good narrator but the stories bore me to death. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roger | 10/7/2010

    " All of Roth's novels are interesting, but this one twists the reader in uncomfortable ways. You have to ride along with it, or you might be tempted to put it down. Still, it's worth the effort and the discomfort of suspending disbelief at times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerry | 10/1/2010

    " Nothing happens in this book; it's just a lot of people talking at each other. Arguing, with varying degrees of civility. Sometimes it was really interesting, and sometimes it was pretty boring. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah | 8/27/2010

    " Not one of Roth's most famous, but I loved this book. It is about alternative realities to two men's lives. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cathie | 8/21/2010

    " Read this in college and thought it was worth revisiting. I was wrong. Reading about over philosophizing is worth than over philosophizing itself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 1/3/2010

    " The Zuckerman issue of self & writer culminates in the imagining of his own demise. A self devouring work that is a work of perfect construction & yet a page turner. Even Roth haters applaud this work as an act of literary imagination. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 11/15/2009

    " Great read from a literary master. This was my favorite Roth book to date, though I liked most of his others too. "

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About the Author
Author Philip Roth

Philip Roth is one of the most decorated writers in American history, having won the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and many more. He also won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union and in the same year received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. In 2001 he received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, given every six years “for the entire work of the recipient.”

About the Narrator

Malcolm Hillgartner is an actor, author, playwright, and professional narrator. Under the name Jahnna N. Malcolm, he and his wife, Jahnna Beecham, have written over one hundred books for young readers; their musicals have played in theaters across America. His audiobook credits include works by Dean Koontz, Nelson Algren, and William F. Buckley Jr. He has won four AudioFile Earphones Awards.