Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author, Dies at 85

26 May, 2018, 10:59 | Author: Ann Santiago
  • Philip Roth

Writing on "behaviour in extreme situations" was Roth's forte, tackling characters with "sheer playfulness and deadly seriousness", recording "life, in all its shameless impurity".

Philip Roth, a prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, has died. His "Plot against America" found renewed significance under the Donald Trump presidency and he published "Nemesis", his final novel, in 2010, before announcing his retirement in 2012. In American Pastoral (1997), I Married a Communist (1998) and The Human Stain (2000), Roth traced the upheavals of the 1940s Red Scare, the turbulent 1960s and the debates over political correctness in the 1990s.

"Goodbye, Columbus" (1969) RottenTomatoes: 100 percent; IMDb: 6.6 Roth's breakout 1959 book was also the first to win favor in Hollywood, with Richard Benjamin and Ali McGraw playing a young couple in a doomed romance despite their shared Jewish upbringing. His career spanned 50 years, 30 books, three PEN/Faulkners, two National Book Awards, and one Pulitzer.

"You can't invent out of nothing, or I can't certainly", he said in a 2011 documentary.

Roth had been especially prolific in the years leading to his 2012 retirement from writing, turning out novels almost every two years. When Roth won the Man Booker International Prize, in 2011, a judge resigned, alleging that the author suffered from terminal solipsism and went "on and on and on about the same subject in nearly every single book". Recalling being shouted at by hostile students after the event, Roth vowed to "never write about Jews again" - a promise, of course, that he did not keep.

The New Yorker magazine first reported the death of Roth, who won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his acclaimed novel "American Pastoral". He was only the third writer-after Eudora Welty and Bellow-to have his volumes preserved by the Library of America while still alive.

Ambitious and unusual, The Plot Against America tells an alternate version of 20th century history in which aviator and anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh wins the Republican nomination for USA president for the 1940 election and defeats Franklin Roosevelt.

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Philip Milton Roth was born March 19, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, the grandson of European Jews who were part of the 19th Century wave of immigration to the United States.

Roth went on to teach at University of Iowa, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Roth, however, often demurred when it was suggested that he should be defined as an American Jewish writer.

"I don't want to read any more of it, write any more of it, and I don't even want to talk about it anymore".

"Charles Lindbergh, in life as in my novel, may have been a genuine racist and an anti-Semite and a white supremacist sympathetic to fascism, but he was also... an authentic American hero", he told The New York Times in January.

Gunn shared a photo of the cover of Roth's book The Counterlife on Twitter, writing: "RIP Philip Roth". It's enough. I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life'.

The novelist struck a similar tone in an interview with The New York Times in January, calling Trump "a massive fraud, the evil sum of his deficiencies" and "devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac".

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