Books: Better Red?

A mesmerizing novel revisits a harrowing time

A Jewish man from Newark, N.J., achieves worldly success and happiness only to have his life ruined by his deranged daughter. That is the central story of Philip Roth's American Pastoral (1997), which earlier this year was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Now comes Roth's I Married a Communist (Houghton Mifflin; 323 pages; $26), which portrays a Jewish man from Newark, N.J., who achieves worldly success and happiness, only to have his life ruined by a deranged stepdaughter. Anyone who thinks these two plots are too similar to justify separate novels probably has not been paying attention to Roth's career. He has...

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