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The Devil and Webster

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The Devil and Webster

March 2017

In THE DEVIL AND WEBSTER by Jean Hanff Korelitz, Naomi Roth is the first female president of Webster College. Webster prides itself on students who are progressive and passionate. In the fall, students assert themselves to protest a popular professor’s denial of tenure; he’s African American and, yes, there are cries of racial prejudice. But rules of confidentiality means that the true reason for this judgment cannot be disclosed, though it is a very valid one.

Students gather at “The Stump,” forming a tent city there. To complicate things, among the protestors is Naomi’s daughter, a freshman at the college. Picture dealing with professional and familial strife on a hotbed topic. The leader of this somber band is Omar Khayal, a Palestinian student who has come to the school via Oklahoma; his storied past is flecked with violence.

Suddenly Naomi is embroiled in a personal and professional situation that is ripping her apart. These days the process of getting into college has gone to insane levels. This book looks at what happens to a carefully cultivated student body (it’s the kind of place where everyone wants to be chosen to attend) once they are admitted --- something not studied in fiction quite like this before. As she did with her earlier novel, ADMISSION, Jean has me thinking a lot more about how colleges and universities function these days. At the same time, we get another peek inside the world of academic faculty where passions, slights and competition all run high.

Given the high level of anxiety we are seeing around the country and the passions that have been ignited, this is a very timely book on many levels. There’s a lot to discuss if you are in a book group.

It is smartly written. The pages fly by as the story moves forward, with lots of very juicy morsels served up oh-so-smartly, and one very riveting “aha” moment that will give you pause.

The Devil and Webster
by Jean Hanff Korelitz

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1455592382
  • ISBN-13: 9781455592388