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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Philip Roth Retires from Writing

In an interview with French magazine Les Inrocks last month, American author Philip Roth announced that he is done writing. His last novel was Nemesis, published in 2010.

Roth came onto the scene in 1959 when his book Goodbye, Columbus was published, containing the eponymous novella and five short stories. It won the 1960 National Book Award for Fiction. Roth would win the award again in 1975 for My Life as a Man. His 1997 novel American Pastoral won a Pulitzer Prize, his fourth work to be nominated. Even with all these accolades, Roth is perhaps best known for Portnoy’s Complaint, his 1969 novel that was a target for controversy due to its explicit sexual nature.

Roth’s fiction is often semi-autobiographical, with the author himself (or at least a character bearing his name) occasionally appearing in his work. He often writes about American life from a Jewish perspective in the wake of World War II, usually with pointed satire and social commentary. He even dabbled in alternative history with The Plot Against America, a 2004 novel that begins with Charles Lindbergh defeating FDR in the 1940 presidential election.

In recent years, Roth expressed pessimism about the future of reading in America, particularly given the rise of digital books and e-readers. While that may have factored into the 79-year-old author’s decision to retire, however, it was not the primary reason. He stressed that he was simply done writing, saying in the interview, “This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had. And after that, I decided that I was done with fiction. I do not want to read, to write more. I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough!”

Click here for all of Philip Roth’s novels available on audio.

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