American Pastoral is a novel by Philip Roth telling about Seymour "Swede" Levov, a Jewish-American businessman and former high school athlete from Newark, New Jersey. Levov's happy and conventional upper middle class life is ruined by the domestic social and political turmoil of the 1960s, which is described in the novel as a manifestation of the "indigenous American berserk". The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and was included in "All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels". The film rights for it were later optioned by Paramount Pictures. In 2006, it was one of the runners' up in the "What is the Greatest Work of American Fiction in the Last 25 years?" contest held by the New York Times Book Review.
The framing device employed in American Pastoral is a 45th high school reunion attended by frequent Roth alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman, who is the narrator. At the reunion, in 1995, Zuckerman meets former-classmate Jerry Levov who describes to him the tragic derailment of the life of his recently deceased older brother, Seymour "Swede" Levov. After Seymour's teenage daughter Merry set off a bomb in 1968 in protest against American involvement in the Vietnam War, killing a bystander, and subsequently went into hiding, Seymour Levov remained traumatized for the rest of his life. The rest of the novel consists of Zuckerman's posthumous recreation of Seymour Levov's life, based upon Jerry's revelation, a few newspaper clippings and Zuckerman's own impressions after two brief run-ins with "the Swede", in 1985 and shortly before his death. From these encounters, which take place early in the novel, we learn that Seymour has remarried and has three young sons, but Seymour's daughter Merry is never mentioned. In Zuckerman's re-imagining of Seymour's life this second marriage takes no part; it ends in 1973 with Watergate unrolling on TV while the previous lives of all the protagonists completely fall apart.