Roth graduated from Bucknell University in 1954. In 1959, Roth won the National Book Award for Goodbye, Columbus. Roth had his first bestseller with 1969’s Portnoy’s Complaint. Produced on March 19, 1933, in Newark, New Jersey, Philip Roth is regarded as among the leading writers of the 20th century. He’s famous for his provocative investigations of Jewish and American individuality, frequently focusing on sexual and familial love and mortality. He’s considered by many critics to be a literary troublemaker, graphically investigating uneasy ethnic and familial problems. Roth grew up with his older brother, Sandy, in a Jewish, middle class family. Roth started his literary career in school. A few of his early short stories were featured in the publication.
Even as a soldier, he continued to compose. Proving to be a contentious writer early on, Roth angered several Jewish subscribers using the narrative “Defender of the Faith,” printed in The New Yorker in 1957. “I was unexpectedly being assailed as an antiSemite, this matter I had detested all my life, as well as a self-loathing Jew,” Roth afterwards described to The New York Times.
In 1959, Roth became among the rising stars of American fiction together with the publication of Goodbye, Columbus. This work won the National Book Award and was afterwards turned into a feature film starring Richard Benjamin. Almost a decade later, Roth discovered himself immersed in a sea of controversy over his novel Portnoy’s Complaint (1969). The novel was considered scandalous by some for its characterization of masturbation. “Portnoy was frank about sex,” Roth explained to People magazine. Portnoy’s Complaint became a huge commercial hit.
From the close of the 1970s, Roth had started composing works that featured his literary alter ego, writer Nathan Zuckerman. While there might be some commonality between Roth and Zuckerman, Roth has insisted that his novels aren’t autobiographical. Roth won the National Book Award again for Sabbath’s Theater in 1995. The storyline revolves around Mickey Sabbath, a former puppeteer, who begins to unravel after the passing of one of his lovers. In all, Roth has created more than 30 publications during his career. His latest names include Everyman (2006) and Nemesis (2010). Himself declared he was retiring from composing in the year 2012, but it’s hard to think this great man of letters will avoid the printed word eternally.
Known for being a little recluse, Roth spends much of his time at his Warren, Connecticut, house. He’s been married twice. In 1959, Roth married Margaret Martinson. The pair were estranged, but not divorced before her passing in an automobile crash in 1968. Himself afterwards wed actress Claire Bloom. The pair split around 1993 and divorced two years later. Actress Claire wrote about their relationship in her memoir, Leaving a Doll’s House.