An academician and a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Philip Roth is a name to reckon with, in the list of US writers of his generation(Philip Roth Biography). He is, by far, one of the most acclaimed and awarded writers. Interestingly, unlike others who slogged to get themselves enlisted amongst the prestigious writers of the generation, Roth jumped to fame with his very first work, ‘Goodbye Columbus’.
What’s more, he even bagged a National Book Award for the same. While his novels are based on different genres and highlight the different aspects of life and nature, one thing that binds all of them and typecasts his writing is the presence of a strong fictional autobiographical character who through his proceedings explicitly determines the difference between reality and fiction.
Childhood & Early Life
Bess and Herman Roth’s second child, Philip Roth, was born in Newark, New Jersey.
He received the majority of his formal education at Weequahic High School, from which he graduated in 1950. He was well-known among his peers, teachers, and fellow students for his wit and humor during his time in school.
After completing his high school education, he applied to Bucknell University and was accepted to study English there. The following year, he received an MA in English Literature from the University of Chicago.
The University of Chicago’s writing program hired him as an instructor for a short period. After that, he enlisted in the US Army and served for two years before being discharged.
In the wake of completing his military service, he decided to pursue a career as a writer. The following year, he won a National Book Award for his debut novel, ‘Goodbye Columbus and Five Short Stories,’ for which he had previously written movie reviews for The New Republic in 1959.
‘When She Was Good’ and ‘Letting Go’, his second and third novels, were inspired by the massive success of his debut work. Even though the first appeared in 1962, the second appeared in 1967.
It seemed like a long time before the big break came for him as a writer. His fourth published novel, ‘Portnoy’s Complaint,’ put an end to all of those criticisms and helped him achieve widespread commercial and critical success, solidifying his position as a best-selling author.
Throughout the 1970s, he experimented with a wide range of writing styles, from political satire to comedy. David Kepesh was the protagonist of his debut novel, ‘Our Gant to the Kafkaesque The Breast.’ In the 1977 novel, ‘The Professor of Desire,’ he reappeared.
In the late 1970s, he created his alter ego, a fictional character named Nathan Zuckerman, who appeared in numerous of his books and novellas.
The University of Iowa and Princeton have both hired him to teach creative writing. Before retiring from teaching in 1991, he taught comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1995, he published ‘Sabbath’s Theatre,’ the novel that won him his second National Book Award.
The protagonist of this book is Mickey Sabbath, a lewd and coarse character who is a disgraced former puppeteer, in contrast to his other books and novels.
‘American Pastoral,’ the first film in the Zuckerman trilogy, was released in 1997. “American Pastoral,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, tells the story of a Newark athletic star who must confront the reality that his daughter has become a domestic terrorist.
This series continued with the publication of the second installment in 1998 and the third in 2000, “The Human Stain,” which was followed by “I Married a Communist.” The former depicted McCarthyism, while the latter concentrated on the rise of identity politics in the United States during the 1990s.
David Kepesh reappeared in a short novel by Philip Roth in 2001, titled ‘The Dying Animal’. Three years later, he came up with the novel, ‘The Plot Against America,’ in which he imagined a Charles Lindbergh-led America.
After writing ‘Everyman,’ his next book, in which he wrote in flashback mode about the protagonist’s childhood, desires, illness, and death, he came up with his next publication.
In 2007, Philip Roth resurrected Nathan Zuckerman in his novel ‘Exit Ghost,’ which he published. The last of his Zuckerman novels that he has published.
His 29th and 30th books, ‘Indignation’ and ‘The Humbling,’ were published in 2008 and 2009, respectively. It’s a story about Simon Axler’s final performance, set in 1951, during the Korean War period.
“Nemesis,” the 31st book in his series, was published in 2010; it was the culmination of the “Everyman,” “Indignation,” and “The Humbling” trilogy.
Personal Life, Legacy & Death
In 1956, he met novelist Margaret Martinson at the University of Chicago, where he was a student. Margaret and Philip Roth wed in 1959.
In 1963, the couple annulled their union. However, Martinson was killed in a tragic car accident in 1968. He suffered greatly as a result of the incident, and it left an indelible mark on his work. Many of his female characters were inspired by her.
With longtime companion and English actress Claire Bloom, he renewed his vows of marriage in 1990. Sadly, the harmony between the two was short-lived, as the two split in 1994.
Awards & Achievements
After he finished his military service, he decided to pursue a career as a professional writer. First published in the New Republic’s movie reviews in 1959, “Goodbye Columbus” was followed by “Five Short Stories” the following year, which earned him a National Book Award nomination.
‘When She Was Good’ and ‘Letting Go’, his second and third novels, were inspired by the massive success of his first novel. Even though the first appeared in 1962, the second was published five years later in 1967.
For all that fame, the big break was still some distance away for him.. ‘Portnoy’s Complaint,’ his fourth published novel, ended all of his critics’ complaints and helped him achieve commercial and critical acclaim, solidifying his status as a bestseller author.
A confessed “creative junkie” who didn’t hold back in the 1970s, his writing style ranged from political satire to comedy. The main protagonist, David Kepesh, wrote the novel “Our Gant to the Kafkaesque the Breast.” In the 1977 novel, ‘The Professor of Desire,’ he reappeared as a recurring character
The fictional Nathan Zuckerman character first appeared in many of his books and novellas in the latter half of the ’70s.
Meanwhile, he began teaching creative writing at Princeton University and the University of Iowa. He then moved to the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught comparative literature until he retired in 1991.
He published his second novel, “Sabbath’s Theatre,” in 1995 and it won the National Book Award for fiction. A disgraced puppeteer named Mickey Sabbath takes center stage in this book, in contrast to his more sober and refined characters in his other works.
A Zuckerman trilogy began with ‘American Pastoral,’ released in 1997. Pulitzer Prize winner “American Pastoral,” tells the story of a Newark athletic star whose life is turned upside down when he learns that his daughter has become a domestic terrorist.
The second installment of the series, ‘I Married a Communist,’ was published in 1998, followed by ‘The Human Stain,’ published in 2000. The former depicted McCarthyism, while the latter concentrated on the rise of identity politics in the United States in the 1990s.
“The Dying Animal” was written by Philip Roth as a short story in 2001 and featured the character of David Kepesh once again. Charles Lindbergh was elected President of the United States in his novel, “The Plot against America,” three years after the events of the novel.
It was in his next book called ‘Everyman’ that he wrote in a flashback mode about the protagonist’s childhood and desires as well as his illness and death.
With the publication of his novel “Exit Ghost” in 2007, Philip Roth brought Nathan Zuckerman back to life once more. There have been no more Zuckerman novels by him to this point.
A year after the release of his 29th book in 2008, he released his 30th, entitled “The Humbling.” The former takes place in 1951 during the Korean War, while the latter tells the tale of Simon Axler’s final performance.
“Nemesis,” the 31st book in his series, was published in 2010; it was the culmination of the “Everyman,” “Indignation,” and “The Humbling”-series.
While his first novella established him as a coveted writer, it was his fourth publication that cemented his position in the world of publication. Winner of two National Book Awards, three PEN/Faulkner Awards, one Pulitzer Prize, and a long list of other prestigious awards, he is known for bringing to life the character of Nathan Zuckerman, his alter-ego in many of his novels and novellas. For more Updates Follow TheActiveNews.Com.