American literary giant Philip Roth dies at 85

Ruben Ruiz
May 26, 2018

Prolific novelist Philip Roth, a dominant force in American literature throughout the latter half of the 20th century, has died, U.S. media said late Tuesday. His work evolved through several distinct phases, and often featured Roth's fictional alter egos, including his best-known character, Nathan Zuckerman. He was also the recipient of numerous awards, such as the Man Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, a pair of National Book Critics Circle awards, and two National Book Awards. Roth is one of only a handful of fiction authors to have won two National Book Awards (for "Goodbye, Columbus" and "Sabbath's Theater", 1994). He was only the third writer-after Eudora Welty and Bellow-to have his volumes preserved by the Library of America while still alive.

The New Yorker magazine first reported the death of Roth, who won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his acclaimed novel "American Pastoral".

Roth once wrote that his novel was not meant to be a direct portrayal or a warning of current and future political times, but it has not prevented comparisons between the novel's plot and the current political climate in the US.

In this September 15, 2010 photo, author Philip Roth poses in NY.

After the 2016 election, many opined Roth's 2004 novel foreshadowed the conditions America would go through under Trump's presidency, including the rise of xenophobia.

Roth was born March 19, 1933 in Newark, and was raised in the city's Weequahic neighborhood, wedged between Routes 78 and 22.

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"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.

Roth taught comparative literature, mostly at the University of Pennsylvania.

The book topped The New York Times best-seller list for the year and turned its reclusive author into a celebrity - an uncomfortable position that he would later satirise in novels such as "Zuckerman Unbound" (1981) and "Operation Shylock" (1993).

Roth's personal life was dragged into the spotlight following his messy breakup with British actress Claire Bloom, who painted a grim picture of life with her ex-husband in her 1996 memoir "Leaving a Doll's House". His more recent books included 2001's "The Dying Animal" and 'The Human Stain, ' published in 2000 and released in 2003 as a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman.

"You have to be able to compress and condense", said Mr. Roth.

In a New York Times interview in 2018, Roth reflected on his 50-plus years as a writer, describing it as: "Exhilaration and groaning. I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life".

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