Philip Roth Dies: Pulitzer Prize Winning 'American Pastoral' Author Was 85

26 May, 2018, 16:39 | Author: Valerie Santiago
  • Philip Roth

Fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to the respected novelist, and many have posted images of their Philip Roth collections. Nine of his novels featured his fictional alter-ego, Nathan Zuckerman (The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman Unbound, Exit Ghost), exploring nearly every facet of his identity, from being Jewish to being a writer and a man.

Roth, in his books, poked fun at the wrath he incurred from some in the Jewish community.

Throughout his career, Roth won two National Book Awards in addition to the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his 1997 book "American Pastoral", which featured his recurring alter ego Nathan Zuckerman.

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".

During his career Mr. Roth wrote more than 30 books, according to his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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Novelist Philip Roth was presented with the National Humanities Medal in 2011.

Roth was also criticized by some as a misogynist, owing to his frequent portrayals of women as sex objects (the protagonist's romantic partners in Portnoy's Complaint, for example, all have derisive nicknames) and allegations about his behavior in his personal relationships with women.

Ex-wife Claire Bloom wrote a bestselling memoir, Leaving a Doll's House, in which the actress remembered reading the manuscript of his novel Deception.

Philip was married twice in his lifetime. For years, he edited the Writers from the Other Europe series, in which authors from Eastern Europe received exposure to American readers; Milan Kundera was among the beneficiaries. He said he had reread his favourite writers, Dostoevsky, Conrad, Hemingway, Bellow, and his own books, and thought he had had enough. The son of an insurance salesman, Roth earned a bachelor's degree at Buckle University and a master's degree in English from the University of Chicago.

Roth acknowledged as much in an interview this year with The New York Times, saying he was "no longer in possession of the mental vitality or the physical fitness needed to mount and sustain a large creative attack of any duration". The scolding, cartoonish parents of his novels were pure fiction. He was outgoing and brilliant and, tall and dark-haired, especially attractive to girls. He enrolled in Bucknell University as a law student and eventually switched to literature at the encouragement of a professor, who went on to become long-time friends with Roth. Long after lesser novelists embraced semi-retirement, Roth published three magisterial novels that came to be known as the American Trilogy. "The unlived, the surmise, fully drawn in print on paper, is the life whose meaning comes to matter most", he wrote in the novel Exit Ghost. Bellow was an early influence, as were Thomas Wolfe, Flaubert, Henry James and Kafka, whose picture Roth hung in his writing room.

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