Philip Roth: A literary life in seven stages

Philip Roth won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel 'American Pastoral'

Philip Roth, whose notorious novels about the sex drives of American men gave way to some of the most probing examinations of the American Jewish condition in the 20th and 21st centuries, has died.

The writer died of congestive heart failure, according to a friend. Though much of his work explored the Jewish American experience, he bristled at being categorized.

The celebrated and controversial author of "Portnoy's Complaint", "The Counterlife" and other novels was 85.

Born on March 19, 1933 Newark (new Jersey), son of a marriage of descendants of Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe and raised in middle class neighborhood of Weequahic, Philip Milton Roth, eternal candidate for Nobel Prize, who never came to conquer, he received or awards such as two National Book Awards, two National Book critics, three PEN/Faulkner awards, a Pulitzer and a Man Booker International.

During a particularly fruitful period in his 60s, Roth returned to a number of those themes.

The writer, regarded as a leading chronicler of the American experience, produced more than 25 novels including American Pastoral, Sabbath's Theater and The Human Stain, in a career spanning six decades.

Philip Roth: A literary life in seven stages

In a moment, William Brangham talks with a colleague and collaborator of Roth's.

"Goodbye, Columbus" (1969) RottenTomatoes: 100 percent; IMDb: 6.6 Roth's breakout 1959 book was also the first to win favor in Hollywood, with Richard Benjamin and Ali McGraw playing a young couple in a doomed romance despite their shared Jewish upbringing.

Here are some excerpts.

Roth had been especially prolific in the years leading to his 2012 retirement from writing, turning out novels almost every two years. I would say just stop now. "The epithet American-Jewish writer has no meaning for me". He was a prolific and lauded writer whose novel American Pastoral won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1998. In 2005 Roth became only the third living writer to have his books enshrined in the Library of Congress. Books such as Roth's "confessional novel" Operation Shylock (1993) also stage his auto-fictional tendencies and the character Zuckerman also seeps into his later autobiographical works including The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography (1998).

Novelist Philip Roth was presented with the National Humanities Medal in 2011. 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.

Bailey said Roth called Ronald Reagan, venerated by today's Republican Party, "a president with the soul of a soap opera grandmother and the intelligence of a high school senior in a June Allyson musical". Named as "the most un-Rothian" of his books by Charles McGrath at The New York Times, it reads as a "Theodore Dreiser- or Sherwood Anderson-like story set in the WASP Midwest in the 1940s". It's enough. I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life'.

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