Skip to main content
PBS logo

Search - The Human Stain

The Human Stain
The Human Stain
Author: Philip Roth
It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished his most virulent a...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780618059454
ISBN-10: 0618059458
Publication Date: 4/2000
Pages: 352
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.

3.1 stars, based on 16 ratings
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio Cassette
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

MOI avatar reviewed The Human Stain on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
It took a good 60 pages into this book before I really got interested in it. The main character isn't the most admirable and there didn't seem to be enough happening to make it interesting. After those first 60 pages of exposition, however, the book lured me in with its twists and turns and surprises. You never know exactly where the story is taking you and what you'll learn. By the end of the book, I wanted to read it again. It accurately captures our world, how we are shaped by it and how we shape it.
reviewed The Human Stain on + 50 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
If you run in circles where heavy-hitting books are bandied about at lively cocktail parties, then you'll definitely want to make sure you've got The Human Stain checked off the list. Had it been less pedantic & preachy, I would definitely have enjoyed it more, but like most "serious" American authors, Roth takes himself too...seriously (which is why Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Tolstoy & Bulgakov rate so highly in my book: they know how to tell an insightful, "important" tale with humor & a light touch). Brace yourself for lengthy, erudite-to-pretentious passages that make you want to shout "yes, you're SMART already!!" along with some extremely touching and insightful passages, in particular, the one from which the book derives its title.
Bernelli avatar reviewed The Human Stain on + 266 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I really liked this book -- so much to talk about. It's a great view into perceptions and societal expectations & hypocracy.
reviewed The Human Stain on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Quite possibly the best book I have ever read. The language is incredible and the story poignant. The historical and social contexts the story is weaved in gives the story a 3-dimensional quality only Roth is able to achieve.
reviewed The Human Stain on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is my new favorite book. The writing is superb. It carries you along on a picturesque journey of thought. I have seen the movie and so I knew "the secret." None the less, it was engrossing to discover how and why Coleman Silk became the person that he did. The reader is also introduced to supporting characters and given insights into their backgrounds and motivations. One of my favorite quotes, among many, is "For all that the world is full of people who go around believing they've got you or your neighbor figured out, there really is no bottom to what is not known."
Read All 23 Book Reviews of "The Human Stain"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

reviewed The Human Stain on + 7 more book reviews
Wonderful book! Complex people caught in a situation not easily resolved. The "human stain" is that part of life that we cannot control. It is also about secrets and ambition. When we want something badly enough, sometimes we hurt others to get what we want. All of us are secret bearers and that is why this book speaks to the humanity of us all. Philip Roth knows how to write about people, their thoughts, their feelings, their insights. This is remarkable literature.