Puneet Varma (Editor)

The Ghost Writer

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Author  Philip Roth
Language  English
Genre  Novel
Country  United States
Series  Zuckerman Bound
Publisher  Farrar, Straus & Giroux

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.


Plot introduction

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.

Television movie

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.

Critical reception

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.

Exit Ghost

In 2007, Roth published the novel Exit Ghost, which Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times called "elegiac" and "a kind of valedictory bookend to 'The Ghost Writer.'"


The Ghost Writer Wikipedia