Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Kristi Paul

Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

Philip Roth died on Tuesday night at a hospital in Manhattan.

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.

In this March 24, 1960 file photo, the three winners of the National Book Award, Robert Lowell, from left, awarded for the most distinguished book of poetry, Richard Ellmann, victor in the non-fiction category, and Philip Roth, recipient of the award in the fiction category for his book 'Goodbye, Columbus, ' pose at the Astor Hotel in New York City.

Roth was an atheist who swore allegiance to earthly imagination, whether devising pornographic functions for raw liver or indulging romantic fantasies about Anne Frank.

Roth began his career in 1959 with the novel "Goodbye, Columbus".


In 2012, Roth announced that he would not be writing more books.

Roth initially didn't set his sight on being an author.

But after a year at Newark College of Rutgers University, Roth emulated an early literary hero, James Joyce, and fled his hometown. He later went to the University of Chicago, where he was awarded an MA in 1955. That same year, Roth enlisted in the Army but was medically discharged after he injured his back.

Many Jewish leaders in the 1950s and 1960s found it hard to embrace Roth, who had emerged from his cherished Jewish Weequahic neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey to wide acclaim with his first novella and short story collection, Goodbye, Columbus. More specifically, he explored Jewish identity, anti-Semitism and the Jewish experience in America. A panel moderator berated him for his comic portrayals of Jews, asking Roth if he would have written the same books in Nazi Germany. Roth was the author of more than 25 books, and a giant in American literature. In 1997 his book American Pastoral earned him a Pulitzer Prize.

He referred to Philip - who is behind books The Ghost Writer, The Plot Against America and The Humbling - as the "greatest living writer" in a touching message.


File photo: Then-President Barack Obama (R) presents the National Humanities Medal to novelist Philip Roth during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, DC. His more recent books included 2001's "The Dying Animal" and 'The Human Stain, ' published in 2000 and released in 2003 as a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman.

Roth had a long relationship with British actress Claire Bloom but their five-year marriage ended in divorce in 1995. "If I'm not an American, I'm nothing", said Roth.

"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 ..." It's enough. I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life'.

One of his novels, The Plot Against America, is to be adapted for television by David Simon, writer and producer of The Wire, the hit TV drama... This would be one of his many influential works that was adapted into a film.

Roth's personal life was just as colorful as his professional one.


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