Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Philip Roth: A literary life in seven stages

Philip Roth: A literary life in seven stages

"He was the writer of the second half of the 20th century in English", said Ross Miller, who edited the definitive collection of Mr. Roth's work for the Library of America.

In 2010, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

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 USA politics. Roth was known for work that was amusing, often gross, and deeply connected to his Jewish roots. But he received virtually every other literary honor, including two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle prizes and, in 1998, the Pulitzer for "American Pastoral".

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The book's narrator and frequent Roth alter ego Nathan Zuckerman tells the story of his former high-school classmate, Swede, whose suburban life is destroyed when his daughter becomes involved with a domestic terrorist group.

In correspondence with The New Yorker past year, Roth drew parallels between Trump and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who features prominently in Roth's novel The Plot Against America as an isolationist president during the 1940s. "The person is a model who then develops into somebody", he said.

Roth also said in the email that he expects writers and journalists to continue to use their right to freedom of speech and press as much as possible to combat Trump's lies and threats to these rights.

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Philip Milton Roth was born on March 19, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, the grandson of European Jews who were part of the 19th-century wave of immigration to the United States. Zuckerman's resemblance to the author prompted some speculation that these books were semi-autobiographical, though Roth swatted away those assertions when asked. Roth and Bloom were companions for several years before marrying in 1990; they separated in 1995. 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.

'The Plot Against America, ' published in 2004, imagines what would have happened had flying ace Charles Lindbergh, an isolationist who expressed anti-Semitic views, defeated Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 election and signed a peace accord with Adolf Hitler.

Roth was considered a hard interview subject and told the Guardian he disliked discussing his books. "In my life I have had, in total, a couple of months of these completely wonderful days as a writer, and that is enough". A memorial is being planned in NY, possibly in September, his biographer Blake Bailey said. Frustration and freedom. Inspiration and uncertainty.

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