New York, May 23 (IANS) Philip Roth, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and uncompromising realist who wrote about male sexuality, Jewish life and America in books like “Godbye Columbus”, has died at a hospital here. He was 85.
Roth died on Tuesday night of congestive heart failure surrounded by close friends and family, CNN quoted Judith Thurman, a close friend, as saying.
Roth was one of America’s most prolific 20th century novelists, with a career that included more than two dozen books and short stories.
He was born in Newark on March 19, 1933, the younger of two sons. His father, Herman, was an insurance manager for Metropolitan Life and his mother, Bess Finkel, was a secretary before she married, reports The New York Times.
Roth graduated from Bucknell in 1954 and won a scholarship to the University of Chicago, where he was awarded an M.A. in 1955.
That same year, he enlisted in the Army but suffered a back injury. In 1956, Roth returned to Chicago to study for a Ph.D. in English but dropped out soon after.
In addition to a Pulitzer, he won other top literary honours, including National Book Awards and PEN/Faulkner Awards.
“From the beginning of his long and celebrated career, Philip Roth’s fiction has often explored the human need to demolish, to challenge, to oppose, to pull apart,” the Pulitzer committee said when it awarded him the prize for fiction two decades ago for “American Pastoral”.
In 2012, he announced that his most recent book, “Nemesis”, published two years prior, would be the last one.
He made the decision after he had reread all of his books.
After he stopped writing, Thurman said, he spent his free time reading and swimming, and meeting friends.
“He was such a driven perfectionist, so when he felt his power ebbing, he wanted to quit at the top of his game, and he did,” CNN quoted Thurman as saying.
Roth has never failed to provoke with his many books.
They included 1959’s “Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories”. “The Plot Against America”, “Everyman”, “The Human Stain” and “I Married a Communist”.