Published: Wed, May 23, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author, Dies at 85

Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author, Dies at 85

Philip Roth, the Pulitzer Prize winning American author of "American Pastoral" and "Portnoy's Complaint", has died.

"I didn't know it would be my last book, but I was months trying to start something new, and I wasn't having any success, and it occurred to me I didn't have to do this anymore", Roth told host Scott Simon.

"Yet his enduring legacy to American fiction will be his mastery of what is known as 'metafiction.' Philip Roth wrote fictions about the writing of fiction".

The New York Times reports the cause of death was congestive heart failure, according to a close friend.

For all the humour in his work - and, friends would say, in private life - jacket photos usually highlighted the author's tense, dark-eyed glare.

After more than 50 years as a writer, Roth decided that 2010's Nemesis, the story of a polio epidemic in the Newark, would be his last novel. The title story first appeared in the Paris Review-and the collection in its entirety deals with the lives and struggles of second and third generation American Jews. Divided into seven sections, the work is derived from Saul Bellow and Henry James.

His works included American Pastoral, I Married a Communist and Portnoy's Complaint. A first-person narrative about Alexander Portnoy, a young Jewish New Yorker who wanted to "put the id back in yid", the book is notorious for featuring the maximum number of masturbation scenes per page. For Roth, it was intentionally rebellious, and "an experiment in verbal exuberance".

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Roth had a long relationship with British actress Claire Bloom but their five-year marriage ended in divorce in 1995.

In an interview with The New York Times in January, Roth contemplated his own mortality. It's also Roth's only novel that features a female protagonist: Lucy Nelson.

Roth retired from writing in 2012, but by no means fell into obscurity-indeed, his seemingly prescient imaginations of American politics only gained traction with the advent of Donald Trump's administration, particularly his 2004 novel The Plot Against America, which tells the story of aviator and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh's victory against Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential elections.

It's no exaggeration that Roth's American trilogy defined his career in literary prizes.

In his illustrious career as a writer, Roth had won numerous accoladed and awards including a Pulitzer Prize, the Man Booker International Prize, two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle awards and three PEN/Faulkner Awards. He was the first three-time victor of the PEN/Faulkner Award, honored for "Operation Shylock" in 1994, "The Human Stain" in 2001 and "Everyman" in 2007.

In The Plot Against America, Roth explores a political alternative history - one in which Franklin D Roosevelt is defeated by "America first" candidate Charles Lindbergh in the 1940 United States election, resulting in growing anti-Semitism and the persecution of the author's Jewish-American family.

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