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Nemesis by Philip Roth
Nemesis begins in Newark in 1944. Bucky Cantor is a young man who feels guilty about not being able to fight for his country because of poor vision. Instead, he focuses his energy teaching boys as a playground director, contributing to his community by being a role model. When polio begins to spread through the city, its unknown cause creates fear and paranoia, with people trying to find the common denominator to those who have been afflicted. Unable to deal with several of his boys falling ill, Bucky sets out to work at a rural Jewish children's camp with his girlfriend. He finds he can't escape his fate by escaping the city. Philip Roth's novel has received mostly positive reviews with The Observer saying, "If you've not read any Roth at all, put down this paper and buy some immediately, but start with, say, The Human Stain rather than this. If you do read Roth from time to time - sometimes loving it, sometimes not - then this novel is one of the ones that I think you'll like."