Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Life&Culture | By Ben Goodman

Pulitzer-winning author Philip Roth dies at 85

Pulitzer-winning author Philip Roth dies at 85

If Philip Roth is credited with a damning premonition of the Trump presidency in his 2004 novel "The Plot Against America", the late novelist was profoundly shocked by the reality of 21st century United States politics.

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.

Eight of Roth's novels were adapted into films, including "Goodbye, Columbus", "Portnoy's Complaint", "The Human Stain", "The Dying Animal", "Elegy", "The Humbling", "Indignation" and "American Pastoral".

The New Yorker reported that friends close to Roth had confirmed his death. Three of his books were honored with the American Jewish Book Award, and in 1998 he won the Jewish Book Council's Lifetime Literary Achievement Award.

Although the author won many awards including National Book Awards and PEN/Faulkner Awards, he never won a Nobel Literature Prize.

Roth was regarded as a fierce satirist and uncompromising realist, confronting readers in a bold, direct style that scorned false sentiment or hopes for heavenly reward. "I know exactly what it means to be Jewish and it's really not interesting", he told the Guardian newspaper in 2005.

"No one I know of has foreseen an America like the one we live in today", he said.

Although his novels often explored the Jewish experience in America, Roth, who said he was an atheist, rejected being labeled a Jewish-American writer. His "Plot against America" found renewed significance under the Donald Trump presidency and he published "Nemesis", his final novel, in 2010, before announcing his retirement in 2012.

Novelist Philip Roth sits inside a screened tent at his home
Novelist Philip Roth sits inside a screened tent at his home

He graduated from Bucknell and pursued a master's degree from the University of Chicago graduating in 1955.

Roth, in his books, poked fun at the wrath he incurred from some in the Jewish community.

His first collection of short stories, Goodbye, Columbus (1959), though well received (it won the author his first National Book Award in 1960), was criticized by several powerful rabbis for its portrayal of Jews as morally flawed and materialistic.

"Roth's coarsest, frankest, and most exhilarating novel, Sabbath's Theater shows off Roth's linguistic verve, his brilliant characterisation, and his unparalleled ability to stare unblinkingly into the psyche of a depraved scoundrel", says Read It Forward, a website dedicated to all things literary.

In 2011 Barack Obama presented the National Humanities Medal to Roth during a ceremony at the White House.

In 1990, Roth married actress Claire Bloom after seven years of dating. It's enough. I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life'. His book "When She Was Good" is said to be based in part of his life with Williams, who he said tricked into marriage by pretending she was pregnant.

Not all of Philip Roth's best work appeared in the pages of an award-winning novel. He was eighty-five years old.

Memorial Day events on the Central Coast
SSG Hurley is now serving with the Iowa National Guard and works as a Human Resources NCO for the 67th Troop Command. This is accomplished only with the assistance of loyal volunteers to whom we owe a great deal of gratitude.

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