Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Philip Roth, the narrator, a writer in his mid-fifties. Following knee surgery, Roth had a mental breakdown, possibly caused by the drug Halcion, which caused him to be delusional. At first, he wonders whether the events in the story he tells are in fact delusions. He relates the story as a confession and says that he has changed the names of characters to protect their identities. In January of 1988, he discovers that someone is impersonating him. The impersonator is attending the trial, in Jerusalem, of John Demjanjuk and is making public appearances and statements to the press. Roth decides to go to Jerusalem, where he confronts the impersonator, whom he begins to call Moishe Pipik. An old, seemingly impoverished Jew (later identified as Smilesburger) gives him a check for $1 million to support Diasporism, a cause promoted by the impostor. George Ziad, an old friend of Roth, tells Roth of his support for Diasporism. Roth pretends to believe in it and says that he would be glad to meet Yassir Arafat and discuss it. On his way back to his hotel that evening, Roth is stopped by Israeli soldiers and is almost beaten, but one of the soldiers recognizes him and allows him to continue on his way. When he returns to his hotel, he discovers that Pipik is in his room. Pipik asks for the $1 million check, and Roth discovers that it is missing. Roth gets Pipik out of his room, but Jinx Possesski arrives later and tells Roth about Pipik’s plot...
(The entire section is 1054 words.)
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