Nemesis is a historical novel by author Philip Roth. It takes place in the summer of 1944. Eugene “Bucky” Cantor is a 23-year-old physical education instructor, and when a polio epidemic begins to spread through the city, Cantor attempts to protect his students and keep their parents calm. As the destruction of the epidemic increases, Cantor steadily transforms from calm and optimistic to grief-stricken and embittered. The novel explores themes of pestilence, grief, fear, identity, and history.