Goodbye, Columbus : And Five Short Stories


Goodbye, Columbus is a 1959 collection of fiction by the American novelist Philip Roth, comprising the title novella "Goodbye, Columbus"—which first appeared in The Paris Review—and five short stories. It was his first book and was published by Houghton Mifflin.

In addition to the title novella, set in New Jersey, Goodbye, Columbus contains the five short stories "The Conversion of the Jews," "Defender of the Faith," "Epstein," "You Can't Tell a Man by the Song He Sings," and "Eli, the Fanatic." Each story deals with the concerns of second and third-generation assimilated American Jews as they leave the ethnic ghettos of their parents and grandparents and go on to college, to white-collar professions, and to life in the suburbs.

The book was a critical success for Roth and won the 1960 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction[1] That earned his name as an up-and-coming young writer. The book was not without controversy, as people within the Jewish community took issue with Roth's less than flattering portrayal of some characters.[2] The short story Defender of the Faith, about a Jewish sergeant who is exploited by three shirking, coreligionist draftees, drew particular ire. When Roth in 1962 appeared on a panel alongside the distinguished black novelist Ralph Ellison to discuss minority representation in literature, the questions directed at him became denunciations.[3] Many accused Roth of being a self-hating Jew, a label that stuck with him for years.[4] It is often speculated that the obscene comedy of Portnoy's Complaint (1969) was Roth's defiant reply to early Jewish critics.

The title novella was made into the 1969 film Goodbye, Columbus, starring Ali MacGraw and Richard Benjamin.

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