Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, dies at 85

Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, dies at 85

The Pulitzer, National Book Award and Man Booker International Prize-winning novelist explored America through the contradictions of his own character for more than six decades. Their first language was English, and they spoke without accents.

The American dream, or nightmare, was to become "a Jew without Jews, without Judaism, without Zionism, without Jewishness".

"I have many favorite books by Roth, but this is one of them".

Feminists, Jews and one ex-wife attacked him in print, and sometimes in person.

But with women often portrayed as little more than objects amid the lustful agonising of privileged heterosexual men, Roth's work was frequently labelled misogynistic.

Zuckerman appeared in 10 books in all, including two often numbered among Roth's best.

The Jewish scholar Gershom Scholem called Portnoy's Complaint the "book for which all anti-Semites have been praying".

He also won the Man Booker International Prize and the National Book Award for his work, which drew inspiration from the Jewish experience, American ideals and sex in America.

Another admired novel, Sabbath's Theater (1995), featured as its protagonist an ageing sex-obsessed puppeteer and helped fuel complaints by Roth's detractors that he could be vain, grumpy, narcissistic and misogynistic. She had persuaded him for a time to live in London, a city where he felt out of place. The book was published by Virago Press, whose founder, Carmen Callil, was the same judge who quit years later from the Booker committee.

Mr Roth dismissed the notion of a parallel, but also made clear his disdain with the occupant of the White House, describing a president "ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance. and wielding a vocabulary of 77 words". He survived a burst appendix in the late 1960s and near-suicidal depression in 1987.

Readers have long argued over the true level of autobiography in Roth's novels and the character Nathan Zuckerman, whose passage from aspiring young writer to socially compromised literary celebrity Roth traced in five novels, has generally been seen as the author's alter ego.

Roth retired from writing in 2012, but by no means fell into obscurity-indeed, his seemingly prescient imaginations of American politics only gained traction with the advent of Donald Trump's administration, particularly his 2004 novel The Plot Against America, which tells the story of aviator and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh's victory against Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential elections. His parents were first-generation Americans who had immigrated from Eastern Europe. A year later, in an interview with NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, Roth said the idea of retiring began to grow after the publication of Nemesis. Roth also helped bring a wider readership to the acclaimed Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld.

Roth never failed to provoke.

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