Philip Milton Roth

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General Information

Name: Philip Milton Roth

Pen Name: Philip Roth

Genres: Fiction

Born: March 19, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey

Website: N/A

Email: N/A

Illinois Connection

Roth attended graduate school at the University of Chicago and worked there briefly after graduating as an instructor in the university's writing program.

Biographical and Professional Information

Roth is an American Novelist. He was born March 19, 1933 of Jewish-American parents, Roth grew up in the lower-middle-class neighborhood of Weequahic in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Weequahic High School, he attended Newark College, Rutgers University from 1950 to 1951 before transferring to Bucknell. At Bucknell, Roth founded and edited the literary magazine, Et Cetera, which published his first stories. In 1954 he graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Bucknell University with a B.A. in English. That same year, “The Day it Snowed,” appeared in The Chicago Review, marking the first time Roth’s fiction was published outside the journal he founded.

With a published story in a major literary magazine, Roth continued his studies at the University of Chicago. There, he met Saul Bellow, who briefly became his mentor. After graduating with an M.A. in English literature, Roth served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1956 and continued writing short stories, criticism, and reviews for publications like The New Republic. He also published his first book, Goodbye, Columbus.

Roth embarked on an academic career in 1960 and went on to hold teaching positions at Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Princeton University, State University of New York, Stony Brook University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1988, he has been Distinguished Professor at Hunter College.

Roth won critical recognition for Goodbye, Columbus, but it wasn’t until the publication of his third novel, Portnoy’s Complaint in 1969 that he became a commercial success. In Portnoy’s Complaint, a New York Time’s bestseller, Alexander Portnoy reveals to a therapist his sexual appetite and adventures, along with his ensuing guilt.

Roth has published 27 novels and has received over thirty major literary awards and honors. He was a National Book Award Finalist in Fiction four times from 1975 to 1987 and won his second National Book Award in Fiction for Sabbath’s Theater in 1995. His National Book Award Finalist books are My Life as a Man (1975), The Ghost Writer (1980), The Anatomy Lesson (1984), and The Counterlife (1987).

Roth’s My Life as a Man is considered the first of his work that dealt with the idea of the connection between a writer's life and work. In a book review in the New York Times (June 2, 1974) Morris Dickstein wrote, “No writer, not even Mailer or Lowell, has contributed more to the confessional climate than Philip Roth.”

With The Ghost Writer, Roth introduced Nathan Zuckerman, a character who went on to feature prominently in three later novels and an epilogue. The Ghost Writer explored how one changes from years spent working with words. ( Incidentally, Roth did not want The Ghost Writer submitted to the National Book Awards, known as the American Book Awards at the time, because he thought the process was too commercial and downgraded the importance of literary art. Norman Mailer and William Styron joined Roth in the protest. Roth continued with the character Nathan Zuckerman in The Anatomy Lesson, in which Nathan is struck with a mysterious illness and writer’s block. In The Counterlife Roth wrote about how human beings create lives for themselves and how their actions are based on other people’s conceptions.

Roth’s second National Book Award winning book, Sabbath’s Theatre, is about an aging, libidinous ex-puppeteer whose mistress’s death triggers a turbulent journey into his past. He explores these lives by reacting with or against other people's ideas of one another.

In 2002 Roth was the recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Bestowed by the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation, the Medal is given to a person who has enriched America’s literary heritage over a life of service, or corpus of work.

Philip Roth continues to produce extraordinary works of fiction and is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. The last of the eight volume collection is scheduled for publication in 2013.

  • Taken from the National Book Foundation Presents: Philip Roth: 75th Birthday Tribute

Published Works

  • Goodbye, Columbus, Vintage, 1959
  • Letting Go, Vintage, 1962
  • When She Was Good,Vintage, 1967
  • Portnoy's Complaint, Vintage, 1969
  • Our Gang, Vintage, 1971
  • The Breast, Vintage, 1972
  • The Great American Novel, Vintage, 1973
  • My Life As a Man, Vintage, 1974
  • The Professor of Desire, Vintage, 1977
  • The Ghost Writer, Vintage, 1979
  • Zuckerman Unbound, Vintage, 1981
  • The Anatomy Lesson, Vintage, 1983
  • The Prague Orgy, Vintage, 1985
  • The Counterlife, Vintage, 1986
  • The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography, Vintage, 1988
  • Deception, Vintage, 1990
  • Patrimony: A True Story, Vintage, 1991
  • Operation Shylock, Vintage, 1993
  • Sabbath's Theater, Vintage, 1995
  • American Pastoral, Vintage, 1997
  • I Married a Communist, Vintage, 1998
  • The Human Stain, Vintage, 2000
  • The Dying Animal, Vintage, 2001
  • The Plot Against America, Vintage, 2004
  • Everyman, Vintage, 2006
  • Exit Ghost, Vintage, 2007
  • Indignation, Vintage, 2008
  • The Humbling, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
  • Nemesis, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010

Titles for Purchase and at Your Library

Goodbye, Columbus : And Five Short Stories (Vintage International)

ISBN: 0679748261
Release Date: 1993-01-13

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Letting Go

ISBN: 0679764178
Release Date: 1997-09-02

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When She Was Good

ISBN: 0679759255
Release Date: 1995-01-31

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Portnoy's Complaint

ISBN: 0679756450
Release Date: 1994-09-20

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Our Gang

ISBN: 0375726845
Release Date: 2001-05-29

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The Great American Novel

ISBN: 0679749063
Release Date: 1995-04-11

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My Life As a Man (Vintage International)

ISBN: 067974827X
Release Date: 1994-01-13

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The Professor of Desire

ISBN: 0679749004
Release Date: 1994-03-15

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Zuckerman Unbound

ISBN: 0679748997
Release Date: 1995-08-01

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The Prague Orgy

ISBN: 0679749039
Release Date: 1995-01-30

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The Counterlife

ISBN: 0679749047
Release Date: 1996-08-06

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The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography

ISBN: 0679749055
Release Date: 1997-01-28

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ISBN: 0679752943
Release Date: 1997-04-01

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Patrimony: A True Story

ISBN: 0679752935
Release Date: 1996-06-03

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Operation Shylock : A Confession (Vintage International)

ISBN: 0679750290
Release Date: 1994-03-15

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Sabbath's Theater

ISBN: 0679772596
Release Date: 1996-08-06

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American Pastoral: American Trilogy (1) (Vintage International)

ISBN: 0375701427
Release Date: 1998-02-03

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I Married a Communist: American Trilogy (2)

ISBN: 0375707212
Release Date: 1999-11-02

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The Human Stain

ISBN: 0099422131
Release Date: 2001

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The Dying Animal (Movie Tie-In Edition) (Vintage International)

ISBN: 9780307454881
Release Date: 2008-07-22

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ISBN: 0307277712
Release Date: 2007-04-10

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Exit Ghost (Vintage International)

ISBN: 0307387291
Release Date: 2008-11-11

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ISBN: 1423369726
Release Date: 2008-09-16

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The Humbling

ISBN: 0547239696
Release Date: 2009-10-21

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ISBN: 0547318359
Release Date: 2010-10-05

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Literary Awards

National Book Critics Circle Awards

  • The Professor of Desire, Fiction Finalist
  • The Ghost Writer, Fiction Finalist
  • The Anatomy of a Lesson, Fiction Finalist
  • The Counterlife, Fiction Winner
  • Patrimony: A True Story, Biography/Autobiography Winner
  • American Pastoral, Fiction Finalist

PEN/Faulkner Awards

  • Operation Shylock
  • The Human Stain
  • Everyman

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

  • American Pastoral

United Kingdom's WH Smith Literary Award

  • The Human Stain

Sidewise Award for Alternate History

  • The Plot Against America

Society of American Historians’ prize

  • The Plot Against America

PEN/Nabokov Award

  • Everyman

April 2007, received the first PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.

Speaking Engagements and Upcoming Appearances

Speaking Engagement Availability: (No)

External Links

Philip Milton Roth on WorldCat

Philip Milton Roth on Amazon

Philip Roth on Wikipedia


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