American literary giant Philip Roth dead at 85

Philip Roth writing and lust

Philip Roth writing and lust

Through the years, Philip Roth has won wide acclaim for his novels - but had a rockier time seeing his work adapted by Hollywood.

Philip Roth, a prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, has died.

'I decided that I was done with fiction, ' he said at the time.

For many, Mr. Roth would be inextricably linked to one of the great comic, sexually charged novels of recent memory, 1969's "Portnoy's Complaint", in which the lead character appears nearly overwhelmed with lust.

Roth announced his retirement four years before Trump was elected president, but for many on the left his 2004 novel was a prescient warning of what has befallen the most powerful democracy on Earth.

The decorated author won most top literary honours, but the coveted Nobel Literature Prize eluded him.

"I did not want to, did not intend to, and was not able to speak for American Jews; I surely did not deny, and no one questioned the fact, that I spoke to them, and I hope to others as well", Roth wrote in his essay "Writing About Jews".

Roth's best-known work was the 1969 novel 'Portnoy's Complaint, ' a first-person narrative about Alexander Portnoy, a young middle-class Jewish New Yorker.

Ambitious and unusual, The Plot Against America tells an alternate version of 20th century history in which aviator and anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh wins the Republican nomination for USA president for the 1940 election and defeats Franklin Roosevelt.

In The Plot Against America, Roth explores a political alternative history - one in which Franklin D Roosevelt is defeated by "America first" candidate Charles Lindbergh in the 1940 U.S. election, resulting in growing anti-Semitism and the persecution of the author's Jewish-American family.

"The death of Philip Roth marks, in its way, the end of a cultural era as definitively as the death of Pablo Picasso did in 1973", he wrote.

Born on March 19, 1933 Newark (new Jersey), son of a marriage of descendants of Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe and raised in middle class neighborhood of Weequahic, Philip Milton Roth, eternal candidate for Nobel Prize, who never came to conquer, he received or awards such as two National Book Awards, two National Book critics, three PEN/Faulkner awards, a Pulitzer and a Man Booker International. He was only the third writer-after Eudora Welty and Bellow-to have his volumes preserved by the Library of America while still alive.

Told through the eyes of a Jewish family living in Newark, where Roth himself grew up, the novel paints a picture of an America that gives in to its extremist and anti-Semitic vices, with Jews deported to the Midwest and fleeing to Canada.

Roth had a long relationship with British actress Claire Bloom but their five-year marriage ended in divorce in 1995.

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.

In a New York Times interview in 2018, Roth reflected on his 50-plus years as a writer, describing it as: "Exhilaration and groaning".

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