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Philip Milton Roth

Born: March 19, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey
Died: May 22, 2018 in Manhattan, New York

Pen Name: Philip Roth

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

Biography: 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, ďThe Day it Snowed,Ē appeared in The Chicago Review, marking the first time Rothís 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 Writersí 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 wasnít until the publication of his third novel, Portnoyís 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 Sabbathís 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 Americaís literary heritage over a life of service, or corpus of work.

  • "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 √Čtranger (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 M√©dicis √Čtranger (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.

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

American pastoral
ISBN: 0395860210 OCLC: 35969314

Houghton Mifflin, Boston : 1997.

The tragic impact of the Vietnam War on a relationship between father and daughter. The father is an upstanding individual who believes in the American Dream, but his daughter has a different dream, to get America out of Vietnam and she kills innocent people to achieve it. For the father it is the end of the world, he has lost his daughter. By the author of Sabbath's Theater.

Deception :
ISBN: 0679752943 OCLC: 20756419

Simon and Schuster, New York : ©1990.

At the center of the novel are Philip and his lover, an Englishwoman compromised by a humiliating marriage, and the conversation that ensues before and after making love.

Everyman /
ISBN: 0307277712 OCLC: 62330606

Houghton Mifflin, Boston : 2006.

"A successful commercial artist with a New York ad agency, he is the father of two sons from a first marriage who despise him and a daughter from a second marriage who adores him, He is the beloved brother of a good man whose physical well-being comes to arouse his bitter envy, and he is the lonely ex-husband of three very different women with whom he's made a mess of marriage. In the end he is a man who has become what he does not want to be." From the bookjacket.

Exit ghost /
ISBN: 0307387291 OCLC: 819683207

Vintage Books, London : 2007.

Like Rip Van Winkle returning to his hometown to find that all has changed, Nathan Zuckerman comes back to New York, the city he left 11 years ago. Alone on his New England mountain, Nathan has been nothing but a writer: no voices, no media, no terrorist threats, no women, no news, no tasks other than his work and the enduring of old age.

Goodbye, Columbus and five short stories /
ISBN: 0679748261 OCLC: 2360171

A Radcliffe girl and a Rutgers boy learn about love in Goodbye, Columbus.

I married a communist /
ISBN: 0375707212 OCLC: 38856186

Houghton Mifflin, Boston : 1998.

Ira Ringold, a ditchdigger from Newark, rises to prominence in the 1940s as a radio star and is betrayed by his new wife, silent film star Eve Frame, who reveals his Communist connections during the McCarthy witch hunts of the early 1950s.

ISBN: 9780224085137 OCLC: 212846986

Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston : 2008.

What impact can American history have on the life of the vulnerable individual? It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding, intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio's Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at the local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hard-working neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad--mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in every corner for his beloved boy. As the long-suffering, desperately harassed mother tells her son, the father's fear arises from love and pride. Perhaps, but it produces too much anger in Marcus for him to endure living with his parents any longer. He leaves them and, far from Newark, in the midwestern college, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.--From publisher's description.

Letting go
ISBN: 0140062564 OCLC: 12243054

Penguin, Harmondsworth : 1984, ©1962.

My life as a man /
ISBN: 067974827X OCLC: 27895874

Vintage Books, New York : 1993.

A young novelist's obsession with proving his manhood is transferred to his fiction and echoed in his tempestuous marriage.

Nemeses :
ISBN: 9781598531992 OCLC: 914467292

Published together for the first time as the author intended, Nemeses is a quartet of novels whose terrain is the human body and whose subject, the common experience that terrifies us all--Publisher description.

Novels & stories, 1959-1962
ISBN: 1931082790 OCLC: 57529772

Library of America : New York, N.Y. : ©2005.

A reader's edition of key writings by the acclaimed author includes the National Book Award-winning Goodbye, Columbus and the trenchant psychological portrait, Letting Go.

Novels, 1967-1972
ISBN: 1931082804 OCLC: 57529783

Library of America : New York, N.Y. : ©2005.

Presents four extraordinarily diverse works displaying the range and originality of Roth's work.

Novels, 1973-1977
ISBN: 1931082960 OCLC: 64585883

Library of America : New York : ©2006.

In The Great American Novel (1973), Roth lifts the lid on the suppressed history of the homeless Ruppert Mundys of baseball's despised and vanquished third major league, turning the national pastime into unfettered picaresque farce. The cast of improbable characters includes: Gil Gamesh, the pitcher who actually tried to kill the umpire; John Baal, the ex-con first baseman, The Babe Ruth of the Big House, who never hit a home run sober; and the House Un-American Activities Committee. My Life as a Man (1974) is the savage, sometimes lurid account of the all-out battle waged between the young writer Peter Tarnopol and the wife who is his nemesis, his demon, and his muse. This is the treacherous world of Strindberg nearly a century later: the story of a fierce marital tragedy of obsession and blindness and desperate need. The volume closes with The Professor of Desire (1977), which charts the second sexual metamorphosis of David Kepesh, protagonist of The Breast. Roth follows Kepesh, an adventurous man of intelligence and feeling, into a vast wilderness of erotic possibility.--Jacket.

Operation Shylock :
ISBN: 0679750290 OCLC: 27034867

Simon & Schuster, New York : ©1993.

What if a look-alike stranger stole your name, usurped your biography, and went about the world pretending to be you? In his extraordinary new book, his most ingenious and original work since Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth confronts his double, an impostor whose self-appointed task is to lead the Jews out of Israel and back to Europe, a Moses in reverse and a monstrous nemesis to the "real" Philip Roth. Suspenseful, hilarious, hugely impassioned, pulsing with intelligence and narrative energy, Operation Shylock is at once a spy story, a political thriller, a meditation on identity, and a confession. This master novelist has never been more demonically brilliant than in the re-creation of his frightening and mysterious journey through the volatile Middle East. Operation Shylock is Philip Roth's twentieth published book - and perhaps his very best.

Our gang :
ISBN: 0375726845 OCLC: 48767771

Vintage International, New York : 2001.

Patrimony :
ISBN: 0671703757 OCLC: 21448290

Simon and Schuster, New York : ©1991.

In a moving elegy, one of America's most powerful writers recreates his father's ordeal as, suffering from a brain tumor, he battles with the ignominy and helplessness of old age.

Portnoy's complaint /
ISBN: 0679756450 OCLC: 218657

Random House, New York : [©1969]

Along with Saul Bellow's Herzog, Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint defined Jewish American literature in the 1960s. Roth's masterpiece takes place on the couch of a psychoanalyst, an appropriate jumping-off place for an insanely comical novel about the Jewish American experience. Roth has written several great books--Goodbye, Columbus and When She Was Good among them, but it is perhaps Portnoy's Complaint for which he is best known.

Sabbath's theater
ISBN: 0395739829 OCLC: 31970961

Houghton Mifflin, Boston : 1995.

The life of an old man who lives for sex. He is Morris Sabbath, 64, a New York puppeteer who made his name with lewd performances. Feeling death approaching, he relives his many amorous adventures in graphic detail. By the author of Portnoy's Complaint.

The anatomy lesson /
ISBN: 0679749020 OCLC: 9643529

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York : ©1983.

The finale to Roth's Zuckerman trilogy. Nathan Zuckerman comes down with a mysterious physical affliction - pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso, and taking possession of his life. His work was his life, but now his work is trekking from one doctor to the next.

The breast /
ISBN: 0679749012 OCLC: 482720

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York : [©1972]

After he is transformed into a 155-pound female breast, college professor David Kepesh struggles to rationalize his condition by proving he is insane.

The counterlife /
ISBN: 0679749047 OCLC: 34323156

Vintage International, New York : 1996.

Novelist Nathan Zuckerman challenges the many schemes concocted by people around him for reversing their seemingly irreversible destinies.

The dying animal /
ISBN: 0307454886 OCLC: 45610401

Houghton Mifflin, Boston : 2001.

"David Kepesh is white-haired and over sixty, an eminent TV culture critic and star lecturer at a New York college, when he meets Consuela Castillo, a decorous, well-mannered student of twenty-four, the daughter of wealthy Cuban exiles, who promptly puts his life into erotic disorder. Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when he left his wife and child, Kepesh has experimented with living what he calls an "emancipated manhood," beyond the reach of family or a mate. Over the years he has refined that exuberant decade of protest and license into an orderly life in which he is both unimpeded in the world of eros and studiously devoted to his aesthetic pursuits. But the youth and beauty of Consuela, "a masterpiece of volupte," undo him completely, and a maddening sexual possessiveness transports him to the depths of deforming jealousy. The carefree erotic adventure evolves, over eight years, into a story of grim loss."--Jacket.

The facts :
ISBN: 014011405X OCLC: 19352458

Penguin Books, New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : 1989, ©1988.

The great American novel /
ISBN: 0679749063 OCLC: 31435378

A baseball farce in which Philip Roth casts an unlikely group of men as the country's baseball heroes.

The human stain
ISBN: 0099422131 OCLC: 248050602

Vintage London 2001

Coleman Silk has a secret. But it's not the secret of his affair, at seventy-one, with a woman half his age. and it's not the secret of his alleged racism, which provoked the college wichthunt that cost him his job. Coleman's secret is deeper, and lies at the very core of who he is, and he has kept it hidden from everyone for fifty years. Set in 1998, with the backdrop of the impeachment of a president, The Human Stain shows us an America where conflicting moralities and ideological divisions result in public denunciations and houndings, and where innocence is not always a good enough excuse.

The humbling /
ISBN: 0547239696 OCLC: 317917962

What happens when all the ways that we convince ourselves of our solidity, all our life's performances--talent, love, sex, hope, energy, reputation--are stripped off? Simon Axler, one of the leading American stage actors of his generation, is about to find out. Now in his sixties, he has lost his magic, his talent, and his assurance. His wife has gone, his audience has left him, his agent can't persuade him to make a comeback. Into this shattering account of inexplicable and terrifying self-evacuation bursts a counterplot of unusual, all consuming, erotic desire, a consolation for the bereft life so risky and aberrant that it points not toward comfort and gratification but to a darker and more shocking end.

The plot against America /
ISBN: 1400079497 OCLC: 54929449

Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston : 2004.

When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews for selfishly pushing America toward a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but, upon taking office as the thirty-third president of the United States, he negotiated a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and whose virulent anti-Semitic policies he appeared to accept without difficulty. What followed in America is the historical setting for this startling new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Roth, who recounts what it was like for his Newark family-and for a million such families all over the country-during the menacing years of the Lindbergh presidency, when American citizens who happened to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.

The Prague orgy /
ISBN: 0679749039 OCLC: 32970844

Vintage Books, New York : 1996.

The American novelist Nathan Zuckerman travels to Soviet-occupied Prague in the mid-1970s in search of the unpublished manuscript of a martyred Yiddish writer.

The professor of desire /
ISBN: 0679749004 OCLC: 29387369

Vintage International, New York : 1994.

As a student in college, David Kepesh styles himself a rake among scholars, a scholar among rakes. Little does he realize how prophetic this motto will be -- or how damning. For as Philip Roth follows Kepesh from the domesticity of childhood into the vast wilderness of erotic possibility, from a meŐĀnage aŐĀ trois in London to the throes of loneliness in New York, he creates a supremely intelligent, affecting, and often hilarious novel about the dilemma of pleasure: where we seek it; why we flee it; and how we struggle to make a truce between dignity and desire.

When she was good /
ISBN: 0679759255 OCLC: 182686

Random House, New York : ©1967.

In this funny and chilling novel, the setting is a small town in the 1940s Midwest, and the subject is the heart of a wounded and ferociously moralistic young woman, one of those implacable American moralists whose "goodness" is a terrible disease. When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her alcoholic failure of a father thrown in jail. Ever since then she has been trying to reform the men around her, even if that ultimately means destroying herself in the process. With his unerring portraits of Lucy and her hapless, childlike husband, Roy, Roth has created an uncompromising work of fictional realism, a vision of provincial American piety, yearning, and discontent that is at once pitiless and compassionate.

Zuckerman unbound /
ISBN: 0679748997 OCLC: 32166156

Vintage International, New York : 1995.

"Now in his mid-thirties, Nathan Zuckerman, a would-be recluse despite his newfound fame as a bestselling author, ventures onto the streets of Manhattan in the final year of the turbulent sixties. Not only is he assumed by his fans to be his own fictional satyr, Gilbert Carnovsky ("Hey, you do all that stuff in that book?"), but he also finds himself the target of admonishers, advisers, and sidewalk literary critics. The recent murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., lead an unsettled Zuckerman to wonder if "target" may be more than a figure of speech" -- publisher website (August 2007).