Published: Wed, May 23, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Legendary author Philip Roth dies

Legendary author Philip Roth dies

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".

Though Roth himself objected to being labelled a Jewish writer - "If I am anything, I am an American writer", he protested - the Jewish experience was central to many of his later books. "I can guarantee you that this is my last appearance ever on television. absolutely [my] last appearance on any stage anywhere", BBC quoted him as having said.

In "The Plot Against America" (2004), Roth returns to his childhood years in Newark in the 1940s, in an alternative history where pro-Nazi aviator hero Charles Lindbergh is elected USA president and negotiates an understanding with Hitler's Nazi Germany, launching an anti-Jewish American program. Although he told "Sunday Morning" he didn't have a "religious bone in my body", most of his characters were Jews.

Roth's fiction, regularly set in his birthplace of Newark in New Jersey, is known for its intensely autobiographical character. The reality, more often, was to be regarded as a Jew among gentiles and a gentile among Jews.

"Growing up Jewish, as I did, and growing up American seemed to me indistinguishable", he wrote in "The Facts". "And I wrote those through college". A first-person narrative about Alexander Portnoy, a young Jewish New Yorker who wanted to "put the id back in yid", the book is notorious for featuring the maximum number of masturbation scenes per page.

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He published his debut collection of short stories, "Goodbye, Columbus", at the age of 26 - a close-to-the-bone look at the materialist values of the Jewish immigrant milieu in which grew up. His story, Defender of the Faith, drew criticism from rabbis and the Anti-Defamation League.

He told "Sunday Morning" he didn't believe in God and said "when the whole world doesn't believe in God, it'll be a great place".

1997's American Pastoral won Roth his Pulitzer, and was adapted in 2016 to the big screen by Ewan McGregor, who played a father whose daughter becomes a terrorist in the 1960s. In 1994 they separated, and Bloom published a memoir, "Leaving a Doll's House", that was "unflattering" to Roth. Roth refused to comment on her claims to "Sunday Morning", saying "I don't want to comment on libels".

In the 1970s, Roth began writing about his alter ego, a writer named Nathan Zuckerman.

Eight of Roth's novels were adapted into films, including "Goodbye, Columbus", "Portnoy's Complaint", "The Human Stain", "The Dying Animal", "Elegy", "The Humbling", "Indignation" and "American Pastoral". In 2007, Roth killed off Zuckerman, who was by then 71, incontinent and impotent, in "Exit Ghost". "Improbably, I had the honor of meeting Philip Roth just a few months ago to discuss an adaptation of Plot Against America", wrote Simon.

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