Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Philip Roth interview: 'I don't want to be caged in by reality'

Philip Roth Philip Roth: A literary life in seven stages
Jeannette Daniel | 26 May, 2018, 10:58

While predecessors such as Saul Bellow and Bernard Malamud wrote of the Jews' painful adjustment from immigrant life, Roth's characters represented the next generation.

Tributes poured in Wednesday honouring the late United States literary giant Philip Roth, whose prolific career as a novelist, essayist and critic chronicled the American experience in the 20th century. Long after lesser novelists embraced semi-retirement, Roth published three magisterial novels that came to be known as the American Trilogy. He was the first three-time victor of the PEN/Faulkner Award, honored for "Operation Shylock" in 1994, "The Human Stain" in 2001 and "Everyman" in 2007. "If I'm not an American, I'm nothing", said Roth.

He first achieved success in 1959 with his short story collection Goodbye Columbus, but it was his sexually explicit novel Portnoy's Complaint a decade later which gained him notoriety.

Leading figures in literature, television and academia paid homage to Roth, the author of works including American Pastoral and Portnoy's Complaint, who wrote about topics from the experience of Jews living in America to male sexuality and U.S. politics. He won numerous awards, and was often talked about as a contender for the Nobel prize.

Philip Milton Roth was born on March 19, 1933, in Newark, New Jersey.

The New Yorker magazine first reported the death of Roth, who won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his acclaimed novel "American Pastoral".


Trump's tenure thrust back into the public eye Roth's 2004 novel that imagined Charles Lindbergh, an aviator with pro-Nazi leanings, defeating Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940.

"There is a certain amount of poetic justice, an aesthetically satisfying irony, in Philip Roth's beginning his career with a brouhaha at Yeshiva University and ending it with an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary - an honor perhaps more significant than the Nobel Prize that eludes him", Michael Kramer, associate professor of literature at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, wrote in an email to JTA in 2014.

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.

"Every year we talked about it, it became amusing", Savigneau said, adding that great writers such as Marcel Proust and James Joyce had also missed out on the prize.

In January, after years away from media, author of Visit to Master (1979) gave an interview to New York Times in which he stated that reading - especially works of history - had replaced his passion for writing and explained that he had finally given Hoisted his career to become aware that he had given everything he had inside: "I had made best of my work, and next thing would be inferior".

Roth had a long relationship with British actress Claire Bloom but their five-year marriage ended in divorce in 1995. Roth was frequently identified as being a writer interested in Jewish identity, as well as lust, the American Dream and male anxiety.

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