Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Philip Milton Roth  

Pen Name: Philip Roth

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: March 19, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey

-- Wikipedia --
-- Philip Milton Roth on WorldCat --

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

Selected Titles At Your Library

Goodbye, Columbus and five short stories /
ISBN: 0679748261. OCLC Number:

. .

A Radcliffe girl and a Rutgers boy learn about love in Goodbye, Columbus.

Letting go /
ISBN: 0679764178. OCLC Number:

. .

Newly discharged from the Korean War army, reeling from his mother's recent death, freed from old attachments and hungrily seeking others, Gabe Wallach is drawn to Paul Herz, a fellow graduate student in literature, and to Libby, Paul's moody, intense wife. The anarchy caused by the Herzes' struggle with responsible adulthood and his own eager love affairs vicariously tests Gabe's desire to be connected to the ordered 'world of feeling' that he finds in books.--from publisher's description.

When she was good /
ISBN: 0679759255. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©1967.

In this funny and chilling novel, the setting is a small town in the 1940s Midwest, and the subject is the heart of a wounded and ferociously moralistic young woman, one of those implacable American moralists whose "goodness" is a terrible disease. When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her alcoholic failure of a father thrown in jail. Ever since then she has been trying to reform the men around her, even if that ultimately means destroying herself in the process. With his unerring portraits of Lucy and her hapless, childlike husband, Roy, Roth has created an uncompromising work of fictional realism, a vision of provincial American piety, yearning, and discontent that is at once pitiless and compassionate.

Portnoy's complaint /
ISBN: 0679756450. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. [©1969]

Along with Saul Bellow's Herzog, Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint defined Jewish American literature in the 1960s. Roth's masterpiece takes place on the couch of a psychoanalyst, an appropriate jumping-off place for an insanely comical novel about the Jewish American experience. Roth has written several great books--Goodbye, Columbus and When She Was Good among them, but it is perhaps Portnoy's Complaint for which he is best known.

Our gang :
ISBN: 0375726845. OCLC Number:

Vintage International,. New York :. 2001.

The breast /
ISBN: 0679749012. OCLC Number:

Holt, Rinehart and Winston,. New York :. [©1972]

After he is transformed into a 155-pound female breast, college professor David Kepesh struggles to rationalize his condition by proving he is insane.

The great American novel /
ISBN: 0679749063. OCLC Number:

. .

A baseball farce in which Philip Roth casts an unlikely group of men as the country's baseball heroes.

My life as a man /
ISBN: 067974827X. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 1993.

A young novelist's obsession with proving his manhood is transferred to his fiction and echoed in his tempestuous marriage.

The professor of desire /
ISBN: 0679749004. OCLC Number:

Vintage International,. New York :. 1994.

As a student in college, David Kepesh styles himself a rake among scholars, a scholar among rakes. Little does he realize how prophetic this motto will be -- or how damning. For as Philip Roth follows Kepesh from the domesticity of childhood into the vast wilderness of erotic possibility, from a ménage á trois in London to the throes of loneliness in New York, he creates a supremely intelligent, affecting, and often hilarious novel about the dilemma of pleasure: where we seek it; why we flee it; and how we struggle to make a truce between dignity and desire.

Zuckerman unbound /
ISBN: 0679748997. OCLC Number:

Vintage International,. New York :. 1995.

"Now in his mid-thirties, Nathan Zuckerman, a would-be recluse despite his newfound fame as a bestselling author, ventures onto the streets of Manhattan in the final year of the turbulent sixties. Not only is he assumed by his fans to be his own fictional satyr, Gilbert Carnovsky ("Hey, you do all that stuff in that book?"), but he also finds himself the target of admonishers, advisers, and sidewalk literary critics. The recent murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., lead an unsettled Zuckerman to wonder if "target" may be more than a figure of speech" -- publisher website (August 2007).

The anatomy lesson /
ISBN: 0679749020. OCLC Number:

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,. New York :. ©1983.

The finale to Roth's Zuckerman trilogy. Nathan Zuckerman comes down with a mysterious physical affliction - pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso, and taking possession of his life. His work was his life, but now his work is trekking from one doctor to the next.

The Prague orgy /
ISBN: 0679749039. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 1996.

The American novelist Nathan Zuckerman travels to Soviet-occupied Prague in the mid-1970s in search of the unpublished manuscript of a martyred Yiddish writer.

The counterlife /
ISBN: 0679749047. OCLC Number:

Vintage International,. New York :. 1996.

Novelist Nathan Zuckerman challenges the many schemes concocted by people around him for reversing their seemingly irreversible destinies.

The facts :
ISBN: 0679749055. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 1997.

Deception :
ISBN: 0679752943. OCLC Number:

Simon and Schuster,. New York :. ©1990.

At the center of the novel are Philip and his lover, an Englishwoman compromised by a humiliating marriage, and the conversation that ensues before and after making love.

Patrimony :
ISBN: 0679752935. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 1996.

Roth writes the non-fiction story of his own father, their relationship, and their mutual tenacity as the father battles a brain tumor that will eventually kill him.

Operation Shylock :
ISBN: 0679750290. OCLC Number:

Simon & Schuster,. New York :. ©1993.

What if a look-alike stranger stole your name, usurped your biography, and went about the world pretending to be you? In his extraordinary new book, his most ingenious and original work since Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth confronts his double, an impostor whose self-appointed task is to lead the Jews out of Israel and back to Europe, a Moses in reverse and a monstrous nemesis to the "real" Philip Roth. Suspenseful, hilarious, hugely impassioned, pulsing with intelligence and narrative energy, Operation Shylock is at once a spy story, a political thriller, a meditation on identity, and a confession. This master novelist has never been more demonically brilliant than in the re-creation of his frightening and mysterious journey through the volatile Middle East. Operation Shylock is Philip Roth's twentieth published book - and perhaps his very best.

Sabbath's theater /
ISBN: 0679772596. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin,. Boston :. 1995.

The life of an old man who lives for sex. He is Morris Sabbath, 64, a New York puppeteer who made his name with lewd performances. Feeling death approaching, he relives his many amorous adventures in graphic detail. By the author of Portnoy's Complaint.

American pastoral /
ISBN: 0375701427. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin,. Boston :. 1997.

The tragic impact of the Vietnam War on a relationship between father and daughter. The father is an upstanding individual who believes in the American Dream, but his daughter has a different dream, to get America out of Vietnam and she kills innocent people to achieve it. For the father it is the end of the world, he has lost his daughter. By the author of Sabbath's Theater.

I married a communist /
ISBN: 0375707212. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin,. Boston :. 1998.

Ira Ringold, a ditchdigger from Newark, rises to prominence in the 1940s as a radio star and is betrayed by his new wife, silent film star Eve Frame, who reveals his Communist connections during the McCarthy witch hunts of the early 1950s.

The human stain
ISBN: 0099422131. OCLC Number:

Vintage. London. 2001

Coleman Silk has a secret. But it's not the secret of his affair, at seventy-one, with a woman half his age. and it's not the secret of his alleged racism, which provoked the college wichthunt that cost him his job. Coleman's secret is deeper, and lies at the very core of who he is, and he has kept it hidden from everyone for fifty years. Set in 1998, with the backdrop of the impeachment of a president, The Human Stain shows us an America where conflicting moralities and ideological divisions result in public denunciations and houndings, and where innocence is not always a good enough excuse.

The dying animal /
ISBN: 0307454886. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin,. Boston :. 2001.

"David Kepesh is white-haired and over sixty, an eminent TV culture critic and star lecturer at a New York college, when he meets Consuela Castillo, a decorous, well-mannered student of twenty-four, the daughter of wealthy Cuban exiles, who promptly puts his life into erotic disorder." "Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when he left his wife and child, Kepesh has experimented with living what he calls an "emancipated manhood," beyond the reach of family or a mate. Over the years he has refined that exuberant decade of protest and license into an orderly life in which he is both unimpeded in the world of eros and studiously devoted to his aesthetic pursuits. But the youth and beauty of Consuela, "a masterpiece of volupte," undo him completely, and a maddening sexual possessiveness tranports him to the depths of deforming jealousy. The carefree erotic adventure evolves, over eight years, into a story of grim loss."--Jacket.

The plot against America /
ISBN: 1400079497. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin Co.,. Boston :. 2004.

When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews for selfishly pushing America toward a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but, upon taking office as the thirty-third president of the United States, he negotiated a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and whose virulent anti-Semitic policies he appeared to accept without difficulty. What followed in America is the historical setting for this startling new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Roth, who recounts what it was like for his Newark family-and for a million such families all over the country-during the menacing years of the Lindbergh presidency, when American citizens who happened to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.

Everyman /
ISBN: 0307277712. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin,. Boston :. 2006.

"A successful commercial artist with a New York ad agency, he is the father of two sons from a first marriage who despise him and a daughter from a second marriage who adores him, He is the beloved brother of a good man whose physical well-being comes to arouse his bitter envy, and he is the lonely ex-husband of three very different women with whom he's made a mess of marriage. In the end he is a man who has become what he does not want to be." From the bookjacket.

Exit ghost /
ISBN: 0307387291. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. London :. 2007.

Like Rip Van Winkle returning to his hometown to find that all has changed, Nathan Zuckerman comes back to New York, the city he left 11 years ago. Alone on his New England mountain, Nathan has been nothing but a writer: no voices, no media, no terrorist threats, no women, no news, no tasks other than his work and the enduring of old age.

Indignation /
ISBN: 1423369726. OCLC Number:

Brilliance Audio,. Grand Haven, Mich. :. ℗2008.

Desperate to get away from his overbearing father, Marcus leaves Newark in 1951 and lands at Winesburg College in Ohio. Now he must make his way in what might as well be another world - a world that may have driven his father mad.

The humbling /
ISBN: 0547239696. OCLC Number:

. .

What happens when all the ways that we convince ourselves of our solidity, all our life's performances--talent, love, sex, hope, energy, reputation--are stripped off? Simon Axler, one of the leading American stage actors of his generation, is about to find out. Now in his sixties, he has lost his magic, his talent, and his assurance. His wife has gone, his audience has left him, his agent can't persuade him to make a comeback. Into this shattering account of inexplicable and terrifying self-evacuation bursts a counterplot of unusual, all consuming, erotic desire, a consolation for the bereft life so risky and aberrant that it points not toward comfort and gratification but to a darker and more shocking end.

Nemesis /
ISBN: 0547318359. OCLC Number:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,. Boston :. ©2010.

Roth's "Nemesis" is the story of a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely knit, family-oriented Newark community and its children.


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

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (No)