Prolific American author Philip Roth dies at 85 | Arts and Culture | Books

Philip Roth 1933-2018

Philip Roth 1933-2018

Before announcing his retirement in 2012, he received numerous literary accolades including the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle award.

Roth was also criticized by some as a misogynist, owing to his frequent portrayals of women as sex objects (the protagonist's romantic partners in Portnoy's Complaint, for example, all have derisive nicknames) and allegations about his behavior in his personal relationships with women.

Mr. Roth was born in Newark, N.J. The aging industrial city featured in many of his works, dating back to his first published book, 1959's "Goodbye, Columbus", a novella and five short stories that won the National Book Award for fiction the following year. The couple divorced in 1995 and Bloom wrote a memoir called "Leaving the Doll's House" where she depicted him as a misogynist and control freak. With horror, she discovered his characters included a boring middle-aged wife named Claire, married to an adulterous writer named Philip.

His final novel "Nemesis", about a 1944 polio epidemic, came out in 2010. By 2015, he had retired from public life altogether. In 2005, Roth became onlt the third living writer to have his books enshrined in the Library of America. Charles Lindbergh, in life as in my novel, may have been a genuine racist and an anti-Semite and a white supremacist sympathetic to Fascism, but he was also - because of the extraordinary feat of his solo trans-Atlantic flight at the age of 25 - an authentic American hero 13 years before I have him winning the presidency.

For decades before Trump, Roth was a fierce critic of a number of USA leaders, says biographer and friend Blake Bailey.

Roth began his career in rebellion against the conformity of the 1950s and ended it in defense of the security of the 1940s; he was never warmer than when writing about his childhood, or more sorrowful, and enraged, than when narrating the shock of innocence lost.

His death left the literary world in mourning for a writer celebrated for exploring American themes, the Jewish experience and male sexuality, often with darkly comic humor, whose work was once extolled by Barack Obama. The scolding, cartoonish parents of his novels were pure fiction. His father was an insurance broker. Roth would describe his childhood as "intensely secure and protected", at least at home. He started his college education at the Newark branch of Rutgers University as a pre-law student, and eventually transferred to Bucknell College, where changed his major to literature. He famously offered one writer who had just published his first book this advice, as chronicled in The Paris Review: "I would quit while you're ahead". "The unlived, the surmise, fully drawn in print on paper, is the life whose meaning comes to matter most", he wrote in the novel Exit Ghost. He later went to the University of Chicago, where he was awarded an MA in 1955. Divided into seven sections, the work is derived from Saul Bellow and Henry James.

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