American literary giant Philip Roth dies aged 85

Rosalie Gross
May 26, 2018

Not all of Philip Roth's best work appeared in the pages of an award-winning novel.

Author Philip Roth, who was both hailed and derided for laying bare the neuroses and obsessions that haunted the modern Jewish-American experience, has died at the age of 85. 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. His career spanned 50 years, 30 books, three PEN/Faulkners, two National Book Awards, and one Pulitzer.

RottenTomatoes: NA; IMDb: 5.1 Richard Benjamin starred in a version of Roth's 1969 novel about "a lust-ridden, mother-addicted young Jewish bachelor".

He collected the Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement in fiction in 2011, followed the next year by Spain's Prince of Asturias award for literature and in 2015, France presented Roth with the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honour, a laurel the author called "a wonderful surprise".

'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.

Although the work earned near-universal praise, and won the prestigious 1959 National Book Award, many Jews felt betrayed by what they saw as an unflattering depiction of the Jewish-American experience.

Gunn shared a photo of the cover of Roth's book The Counterlife on Twitter, writing: "RIP Philip Roth".

The news was confirmed by Roth's agent Andrew Wylie.

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Although "They are not confirmed Nipah Cases yet, so there is no need to panic", he added via telephone. A female relative who was with them in hospital also died later.

The novel's alternative American history, which imagines Franklin D. Roosevelt being defeated in 1940 by Charles Lindbergh, an aviator with pro-Nazi leanings, led some left-wing critics to draw comparisons with Mr Trump's populist sweep to power.

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

A prolific writer, Roth was the author of dozens of novels including Portnoy's Complaint, American Pastoral and Goodbye, Columbus. 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 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".

Born in New Jersey in 1933, Roth is considered one of the great American male writers of the 20th century along with authors such as John Updike, Norman Mailer, and Saul Bellow.

Roth was married twice, first to Margaret Martinson Williams, from whom he divorced in 1963, and then to stage actress Claire Bloom.

In a series of emails exchanged with the New Yorker in January 2017, Roth had drawn a similar comparison between Trump and Lindbergh, adding, "Trump is just a con artist. I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life".

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