Book: American Pastoral by Philip Roth

Recommended by: Annabelle Williams

Genre: Historical/political fiction

Synopsis that won't give away the plot: A mundane narrator grows fascinated with the life of a former classmate, Seymour “Swede” Levov, upon seeing him at his high school reunion. When narrator Mark is asked out to dinner with the Swede, he finds himself entangled in a family drama stretching back years. The seemingly idyllic Levov family, avowed capitalists living in Newark in the 1960s, has a problem. The Swede’s only daughter, Merry, is accused of committing an act of domestic terrorism. The book traces the threads that led her there and the web of political and ideological forces swirling throughout the ‘60s. American Pastoral takes a nuanced look at class, race, anti–Semitism, and left–wing groups in the 1960s. And Roth does so in a way that feels chillingly relevant today.

Line that tickled your eyeballs (aka good quote): "The daughter who transports him out of the longed–for American pastoral, into the fury, the violence, and the desperation of the counterpastoral—into the indigenous American berserk."

Who you'd recommend it to: Anyone who is taking that 7–hour class on existential despair, Cold War buffs, literary snobs who want to read something fast–paced for a change.

Why it's your summer pick: Literary enough to be a good SABSing book, exciting enough to make you audibly gasp. 

Where you're reading it: Away from prying eyes. Moderately #NSFW.