Influential author Philip Roth (Portnoy’s Complaint, The Great American Novel) died Tuesday night at a Manhattan hospital of congestive heart failure. He was 85.
Though his work and his persona were often controversial, Roth numbered among America’s best known novelists, and his passing has brought widespread remembrance and mourning.
“Mr. Roth was the last of the great white males: the triumvirate of writers — Saul Bellow and John Updike were the others — who towered over American letters in the second half of the 20th century,” said the New York Times in their obituary. “Outliving both and borne aloft by an extraordinary second wind, Mr. Roth wrote more novels than either of them. In 2005 he became only the third living writer (after Bellow and Eudora Welty) to have his books enshrined in the Library of America.”
Meanwhile, The Evening Standard collects the best books, novels and quotes in “A look back on the life of the legendary author” that can be found here.
And in The Times UK, David Aaronovitch shares how “Philip Roth told us the truth about ourselves.”
The year Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint was published, I turned 15 and all of us, my friends and I, read it with amazement. No writer before or since has, I think, captured the madness of the testosterone-crazed adolescent boy in the long era before internet pornography. The narrator violating a piece of liver “behind a billboard on the way to a bar mitzvah lesson” was both extreme and believable.
We bow our heads.