American literary giant Philip Roth dead at 85

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Some anxious that his work would endanger American Jews, providing fodder for anti-Semites.

Author of more than 25 books, Roth was a fierce satirist and uncompromising realist, confronting readers in a bold, direct style that scorned false sentiment or hopes for heavenly reward.

Roth's first published book was the 1959 novella and short-story collection "Goodbye, Columbus, ' which won the National Book Award".

Eight of Roth's novels have been adapted into films, including "Goodbye, Columbus" with Richard Benjamin and Ali McGraw; "Portnoy's Complaint"; "The Human Stain" with Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman; "The Dying Animal", adapted as "Elegy"; "The Humbling" with Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig; and "Indignation" and "American Pastoral" both in 2016.

Friend and writer Judith Thurman said that after he stopped writing Roth spent his free time reading and swimming, and meeting friends.


Roth also received the Pulitzer Price for fiction for his 1997 book "American Pastoral", which featured his recurring alter ago Nathan Zuckerman.

A prolific essayist and critic, Roth was best known for mining the Jewish-American experience in his work.

"From enfant awful to elder statesman".

He was in his 20s when he won his first award and awed critics and fellow writers by producing some of his most acclaimed novels in his 60s and 70s, including The Human Stain and Sabbath's Theater, a savage narrative of lust and mortality he considered his finest work.

Although much of his work appeared autobiographical, Mr. Roth said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that his personal history represented only a starting point. "We are grateful for the mirror even if not everything you see in it is easy".


The writer was born on March 19, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey.

Although the author won many awards including National Book Awards and PEN/Faulkner Awards, he never won a Nobel Literature Prize. Jewish leaders' outrage at Roth peaked a decade later with Portnoy's Complaint and its exploration of lustful Jewish paranoia - including a scene where the protagonist pleasures himself with a piece of liver.

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.

"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. "His endings tend to the tragic". After publication of Nemesis (2010), Philip Roth announced to world that it left forever writing.

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


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