Eminent novelist Philip Roth dies at 85 in Manhattan

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

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

The New York Times confirmed the news, citing the author's close friend Judith Thurman.

Roth's fiction, regularly set in his birthplace of Newark in New Jersey, is known for its intensely autobiographical character.

He rose to fame after the 1959 publication of "Goodbye, Columbus", which earned him the National Book Award.

"His sin was simple: he'd had the audacity to write about a Jewish kid as being flawed", wrote David Remnick in a 2000 New Yorker profile of Roth.

He first achieved success in 1959 with his short story collection Goodbye Columbus, but it was his sexually explicit novel Portnoy's Complaint a decade later which gained him notoriety.

"By the end of the 1970s, Roth had begun writing works that featured his literary alter ego, writer Nathan Zuckerman".

"A darling man and our greatest living writer".

He had long since retired to rural CT, where he re-read all his books back as far as Portnoy's Complaint, pronouncing himself broadly satisfied. He won his second National Book Award in 1995 with "Sabbath's Theater". In a rare interview with the New York Times, published in January 2018, Roth had some scathing remarks about the current POTUS. "I dig a hole and shine my flashlight into the hole".

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The novel's alternative American history, which imagines Franklin D. Roosevelt being defeated in 1940 by Charles Lindbergh, an aviator with pro-Nazi leanings, led some left-wing critics to draw comparisons with Mr Trump's populist sweep to power.

"Though the novel's overarching drama is the national and global crisis that Roth imagines, its specifics are intimate". The exceptional trilogy, tragic-comic in style and heavily historical in content, saw Roth engage with American politics and concerns for the first time in two decades, and impressively, at age 60.

"Roth recounts that years later, his father, a successful insurance salesman, told him: "'You know what happened when we got in the taxi cab?' 'What, ' I said. "I always have worked every day, and I'm kind of a maniac". He even questioned, "How could a maniac give up what he does?" Not just imagine it, but, again, make a work of art out of it.

The author has repeatedly insisted on a distinct line between fact and fiction in his work, but as he advanced into his 80s poignant reflections on mortality haunted his later novels, including "Everyman" and "Nemesis".

Gunn shared a photo of the cover of Roth's book The Counterlife on Twitter, writing: "RIP Philip Roth". A year later, she published a bruising memoir, "Leaving a Doll's House", in which she portrayed him as depressed, remote, self-centered and verbally abusive.

In the novel The Ghost Writer he quoted one of his heroes, Franz Kafka: "We should only read those books that bite and sting us".

"I've been doing it since about 1955. and so I gradually stopped writing, and found that it was very pleasant, and indeed I haven't written for several years now". I would say just stop now. "I go home and go to sleep", he told NPR, laughing.

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