Celebrated Novelist Philip Roth Dies at 85

Carla Harmon
May 26, 2018

In 2012, Roth said that his most recent book, Nemesis, published two years earlier, would be his last, after having reread all his books.

Tributes poured in Wednesday honouring the late USA literary giant Philip Roth, whose prolific career as a novelist, essayist and critic chronicled the American experience in the 20th century.

The celebrated and controversial author of "Portnoy's Complaint, ' 'The Counterlife" and other novels was 85.

The writer died of congestive heart failure, according to a friend.


Roth never won the Nobel Prize, but was awarded almost every other accolade going - including the Pulitzer, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Man Booker prize for global achievement. He started his college education at the Newark branch of Rutgers University as a pre-law student, and eventually transferred to Bucknell College, where changed his major to literature. He was only the third writer-after Eudora Welty and Bellow-to have his volumes preserved by the Library of America while still alive.

Roth became the first novelist to win three PEN/Faulkner awards after the publication of Everyman in 2006, and in 2011 he won the Man Booker International Prize after the publication of his 2010 novel Nemesis.

Readers have long argued over the true level of autobiography in Roth's novels and the character Nathan Zuckerman, whose passage from aspiring young writer to socially compromised literary celebrity Roth traced in five novels, has generally been seen as the author's alter ego.

In his obituary, New Yorker has recalled Roth's favorite mes: "The Jewish family, sex, American ideals, betrayal of American ideals, political fanaticism, and personal identity". Roth was also known for exploring sexuality in his books. I would say just stop now. Surely he wasn't regretful: While living on Manhattan's Upper West Side, he spent his retirement reading voraciously (mostly nonfiction), going to concerts, and spending time with friends.


In 1990, Roth married actress Claire Bloom after seven years of dating.

"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 ... In my life I have had, in total, a couple of months of these completely wonderful days as a writer, and that is enough".

Other works adapted into film include "Goodbye, Columbus", starring Richard Benjamin and Ali McGraw, "Potnoy's Complaint", starring Benjamin and Karen Black, "The Human Stain" with Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman, "The Dying Animal, ' adapted as "Elegy"; starring Penélope Cruz and Ben Kingsley and 'The Humbling" with Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig. A year later, she published a bruising memoir, 'Leaving a Doll's House, ' in which she portrayed him as depressed, remote, self-centered and verbally abusive.


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