'Marco Roth's book about his father is a farewell to a bygone culture - polygot, intellectual, Europhile, psychoanalytic - and simultaneously a renewal of that culture. It's moving, tough-minded, and distinctive, a memoir the likes of which nobody else could write.' Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision With the precociousness expected of the only child of a doctor and a classical musician - from the time he could get his toddler tongue to pronounce a word like 'deoxyribonucleic acid' or recite a French poem - Marco Roth was able to share his parents' New York, a world centered around house concerts, a private library of literary classics, and dinner discussions of the latest advances in medicine. That world ended when his father began to suffer the worst effects of the AIDS virus that had infected him in the early 1980s. What this family would not talk about for years came to dominate the lives of its surviving members, often in unexpected ways. The Scientists is a story of how we first learn from our parents and how we then learn to see them as separate individuals; it's a story of how preciousness can slow us down when it comes to understanding our desires and other people's.
A memoir of parents and children in the tradition of Edmund Gosse, Henry Adams and J. R. Ackerley, The Scientists grapples with a troubled and emotional inheritance, in a style that is both elegiac and defiant.
'Among the incidental pleasures of The Scientists is the glimpse of a rarefied subset of New York's intelligentsia, as close to extinction now as Thomas Mann's merchant princes were in his day. Appealingly honest, and in its own way wrestles with the large conflicts its talented author has confronted, and survived.' -- James Lasdun Guardian 'Compulsive memoir. Effortlessly erudite and often startlingly precise. He writes beautifully. That care, which breathes through every paragraph, is freighted too with a kind of desperation. This is a book that Roth feels born, or doomed to write. You guess that few authors have been more relieved to get to the final page of a book than this one; for my part, as a reader, I was just sad it had ended.' -- Tim Adams Observer 'It is the glimpses of real emotion beneath the veneer of slightly self-regarding learning that renders it ultimately haunting.' Sunday Times 'Roth's poised prose transforms the confusion of his youth into something like wisdom.' -- Anthony Cummins Metro 'The book is infused with a tension between Roth's fear of betraying his family and his need to save himself. While acknowledging that writing about the deception at the centre of his parents' lives was their ultimate fear, Roth sees the act of memoir as a way of wresting his future from his family's past. In characteristically elegant, precise prose, Roth deftly reconstructs an isolated family life of "alone together". The Scientists is a penetrating memoir dripping with self-scrutiny and endowed with a devastating portrait of a man harbouring a secret he knew would unravel. ' Sunday Business Post 'Moving and engagingly written debut.' The Bookseller