Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information


Pen Name: Philip Roth

Genre: C:ADULT Fiction

Born: March 19, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey


Illinois Connection

Roth received an M.A. from the University of Chicago and was an instructor in the university's writing program briefly after graduating.

Biographical and Professional Information

Philip Roth was an American Novelist. Roth grew up in the lower-middle-class neighborhood of Weequahic in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Weequahic High School, he attended Newark College, Rutgers University from 1950 to 1951 before transferring to Bucknell. At Bucknell, Roth founded and edited the literary magazine, Et Cetera, which published his first stories. In 1954 he graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Bucknell University with a B.A. in English. That same year, “The Day it Snowed,” appeared in The Chicago Review, marking the first time Roth’s fiction was published outside the journal he founded.

With a published story in a major literary magazine, Roth continued his studies at the University of Chicago. There, he met Saul Bellow, who briefly became his mentor. After graduating with an M.A. in English literature, Roth served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1956 and continued writing short stories, criticism, and reviews for publications like The New Republic. He also published his first book, Goodbye, Columbus which was made into a motion picture in 1969. The book went on to receive a National Book Award.

Roth embarked on an academic career in 1960 and went on to hold teaching positions at Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Princeton University, State University of New York, Stony Brook University, and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1988 he became a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College. Roth won critical recognition for Goodbye, Columbus, but it wasn’t until the publication of his third novel, Portnoy’s Complaint in 1969 that he became a commercial success. It was made into a major motion picture in 1972.

Roth published 27 novels and received over thirty major literary awards and honors. He was a National Book Award Finalist in Fiction four times from 1975 to 1987 and won his second National Book Award in Fiction for Sabbath’s Theater in 1995. His National Book Award Finalist books are My Life as a Man (1975), The Ghost Writer (1980), The Anatomy Lesson (1984), and The Counterlife (1987).

In 2002 Roth was the recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Bestowed by the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation, the Medal is given to a person who has enriched America’s literary heritage over a life of service, or corpus of work.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- "Goodbye, Columbus"

-- *1960 National Book Award

-- *1960 National Jewish Book Award


-- "My Life as A Man"

-- *1975 National Book Award finalist


-- "The Professor Of Desire"

-- *1978 NBCCA finalist


-- "The Ghost Writer"

-- *1980 Pulitzer Prize finalist

-- *1980 National Book Award finalist

-- *1980 NBCCA finalist


-- "The Anatomy Lesson"

-- *1984 National Book Award finalist

-- *1984 NBCCA finalist


-- "The Counterlife"

-- *1986 National Book Critics Circle Award (NBCCA)

-- *1987 National Book Award finalist

-- *1988 National Jewish Book Award


-- "Patrimony"

-- *1991 National Book Critics Circle Award (NBCCA)


-- "Operation Shylock"

-- *1994 PEN/Faulkner Award

-- *1994 Pulitzer Prize finalist


-- "Sabbath's Theater"

-- *1995 National Book Award

-- *1996 Pulitzer Prize finalist

-- *1997 International Dublin Literary Award longlist


-- "American Pastoral"

-- *1998 Pulitzer Prize

-- *1998 NBCCA finalist

-- *1999 International Dublin Literary Award longlist

-- *2000 Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (France)


-- "I Married a Communist"

-- *1998 Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union

-- *2000 International Dublin Literary Award shortlist


-- "The Human Stain"

-- *2000 National Jewish Book Award

-- *2001 PEN/Faulkner Award

-- *2001 WH Smith Literary Award

-- *2002 International Dublin Literary Award longlist

-- *2002 Prix Médicis Étranger (France)


-- "The Plot Against America"

-- *2005 NBCCA finalist

-- *2005 Sidewise Award for Alternate History

-- *2005 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction

-- *2005 WH Smith Literary Award


-- "Everyman"

-- *2007 PEN/Faulkner Award

-- *2008 International Dublin Literary Award longlist


-- "Exit Ghost"

-- *2009 International Dublin Literary Award longlist


-- "Other Honors and Awards"

-- *1998 National Medal of Arts

-- *&2001 Franz Kafka Prize

-- *2001 Gold Medal In Fiction from The American Academy of Arts and Letters

-- *2001 42nd Edward MacDowell Medal from the MacDowell Colony

-- *2002 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation

-- *2005 Nominee for Man Booker International Prize

-- *2006 PEN/Nabokov Award for lifetime achievement

-- *2007 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction

-- *2010 The Paris Review Hadada Prize

-- *2011 National Humanities Medal for 2010

-- *2011 Man Booker International Prize

-- *2012 Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction

-- *2012 Prince of Asturias Awards for literature

-- *2013 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award for lifetime achievement and advocacy.

-- *2013 Commander of the Legion of Honor by the Republic of France.