Philip Roth’s novella Goodbye, Columbus was published in 1959. It tells the story of Neil Klugman, a recent college graduate who is working in a library in Newark, New Jersey. He falls in love with Brenda Patimkin, a wealthy Jewish girl from Short Hills, and the two embark on a summer romance.
At the heart of the novella is the tension between the two worlds that Neil and Brenda come from. Neil is a working-class Jewish boy from Newark, while Brenda is part of the wealthy Jewish elite of Short Hills. Neil is acutely aware of the differences between their backgrounds, and he struggles to fit in with Brenda’s family and their social circle.
Roth explores themes such as social class, assimilation, and cultural identity throughout the novella. He portrays the Patimkin family as shallow and materialistic, and Brenda as conflicted about her identity and her relationship with Neil. Neil, meanwhile, is portrayed as an outsider who is both attracted to and repelled by the world of the Patimkins.
One of the most notable aspects of Goodbye, Columbus is Roth’s writing style. He is a master at creating vivid and realistic characters and settings, and his prose is both elegant and witty. He is able to convey a sense of the characters’ inner lives and emotions with great skill, making for a deeply engaging reading experience.
Goodbye, Columbus was widely acclaimed upon its release and won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1960. It is a must-read for anyone who is interested in postwar American literature and the complexities of cultural identity.