American writer Philip Roth.

Philip Roth

(1933 - 2018)

Philip Roth’s first collection of short stories, Goodbye, Columbus, won the twenty-six-year-old author a National Book Award in 1960 as well as the disdain of rabbis across the country. He has since published over twenty novels, among them The Human Stain, The Plot Against America, and American Pastoral, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1998. He once said that the much-discussed Jewish quality of his writing was derived from “the nervousness, the excitability, the arguing, the dramatizing, the indignation, the obsessiveness, the touchiness, the playacting—above all the talking.” After the publication of Nemesis in 2010, Roth decided to stop writing novels, but he did not announce it until 2012. “I didn’t say anything about it because I wanted to be sure it was true,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute, don’t announce your retirement and then come out of it.’ I’m not Frank Sinatra. So I didn’t say anything to anyone, just to see if it was so.”

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A Jewish man with parents alive is a fifteen-year-old boy, and will remain a fifteen-year-old boy till they die!

—Philip Roth, 1969

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