Everyman by Philip Roth
After the internment, the novel goes back to the time when the boy goes to the hospital with his mother to have a hernia repaired. He is 8 years old. The child in the bed next to him dies. He is frightened to sleep without his parents. Thereafter every serious illness is recorded in the kind of detail one gets when one falls into the clutches of doctors and hospitals. The deterioration of the body is recorded in some detail. So are the major events and people in his life. How, you’ll ask, in 192 pages? That probably is the genius of this work, that, not intending a family saga, Roth selects so wisely that the reader nevertheless sees Roth's hero with all his warts—and also with all his humanity.
What Roth does that medieval morality plays don’t do is deal with humans confronting death in the absence of religion or a belief in an afterlife. Our everyman stopped going to the synagogue immediately after his bar mitzvah.