American literary giant Philip Roth dies aged 85

Philip Roth: A literary life in seven stages

Author Philip Roth poses in New York, Sept. 15, 2010.

Literary giant Philip Roth's critical comments about President Donald Trump are being remembered following the author's death at the age of 85 on Tuesday. He also was a three-time recipient of the PEN/Faulkner Award.

"I decided that I was done with fiction", he said.

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. He retired from writing in 2012. When Roth won the Man Booker International Prize, in 2011, a judge resigned, alleging that the author suffered from terminal solipsism and went "on and on and on about the same subject in nearly every single book". On a panel at Yeshiva University in 1962, he was attacked, and he promised himself he'd never write about Jews again.

Philip Milton Roth was born 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. But he received virtually every other literary honour, including two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle prizes and, in 1998, the Pulitzer for American Pastoral.

"There is a certain amount of poetic justice, an aesthetically satisfying irony, in Philip Roth's beginning his career with a brouhaha at Yeshiva University and ending it with an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary - an honor perhaps more significant than the Nobel Prize that eludes him", Michael Kramer, associate professor of literature at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, wrote in an email to JTA in 2014.

"I don't want to read any more of it, write any more of it, and I don't even want to talk about it anymore". In 2005 Roth became only the third living writer to have his books enshrined in the Library of Congress.

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The book topped The New York Times best-seller list for the year and turned its reclusive author into a celebrity - an uncomfortable position that he would later satirise in novels such as "Zuckerman Unbound" (1981) and "Operation Shylock" (1993).

Roth, however, often demurred when it was suggested that he should be defined as an American Jewish writer.

In 1990, Roth married actress Claire Bloom after seven years of dating.

'The Plot Against America, ' published in 2004, imagines what would have happened had flying ace Charles Lindbergh, an isolationist who expressed anti-Semitic views, defeated Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 election and signed a peace accord with Adolf Hitler.

In a series of emails exchanged with the New Yorker in January 2017, Roth had drawn a similar comparison between Trump and Lindbergh, adding, "Trump is just a con artist".

The topics Roth wrote about included the Jewish experience in America, promiscuous male sexuality, and the hypocrisy and disillusionment of American political life since the 1940s.

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