Pulitzer-winning author Philip Roth dies at 85: media reports


Philip Roth, the American novelist responsible for such seminal works as "American Pastoral" and "Goodbye, Columbus", died Tuesday.

Roth's literary agent Andrew Wylie confirmed Roth died of congestive heart failure in a NY hospital on Tuesday night.

Roth found fame with the wildly graphic "Portnoy's Complaint" in 1969 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for "American Pastoral".

Although his novels often explored the Jewish experience in America, Roth, who said he was an atheist, rejected being labeled a Jewish-American writer.

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He continued to write well into the 2000s before retiring in 2012.

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. He then went back and reread all his works "to see whether I'd wasted my time", he said in a 2014 interview published in the New York Times Book Review. Zuckerman's resemblance to the author prompted some speculation that these books were semi-autobiographical, though Roth swatted away those assertions when asked.

Philip Milton Roth was born on March 19, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, the grandson of European Jews who were part of the 19th-century wave of immigration to the United States.

The celebrated and controversial author of "Portnoy's Complaint", "The Counterlife" and other novels was 85. He graduated from Weequahic High School in 1951 before receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Bucknell University. "Irreverent, provocative, sexy, and both a celebration and a slight indictment of middle-class Jewish identity in postwar America".

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In 2010, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama. "The struggle with writing is done", said a note he taped to his computer.

A prolific essayist, critic and novelist, the 1990s were the height of his productivity, exemplified by his widely admired trilogy - "American Pastoral" (1997), "I Married a Communist" (1998) and "The Human Stain" (2000). I would say just stop now. "In my life I have had, in total, a couple of months of these completely wonderful days as a writer, and that is enough".

"He was more precise and insightful, more intellectually adept and downright witty than most any person of any age", said David Simon, creator of acclaimed drama "The Wire" who is adapting "Plot Against America" for the small screen.

In an email exchange with The New Yorker, Roth said Lindbergh was a pilot "who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius".

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