May 19, 2013
Dear Mr. Roth,
I am writing this letter to you shortly after I finished reading American Pastoral (my first exposure to your writing) and then sent you my Russian Jewish immigrant novel The Provider. I cannot find my way yet beyond thinking about your novel, never having read a novel with so much sorrow for a lost world and so much violent indignation for what replaced it. Your novel moved me out of my beloved childhood world into a violent world with which I did not halfway participate. Where had I been?
We were a “nuclear” family of four who left my childhhod neighborhood when I was thirteen years old. The Provider tells of my parents’ preoccupation throughout their lives. But I immediately assimilated into an affluent limbo— quiet and safe, searching and not finding, ultimately becoming practical to the plate before me. At the age of fifty, I was presented with an opportunity and took hold. I became a writer.
Your novel told me what is wrong with me every time I present an author talk on The Provider and cry: my heart is broken for my parents’ American pastoral and my own.