Philip Roth (1933-2018)
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018
Philip Roth, one of the 20th century's preeminent writers, has died.
Roth's career as a writer was long and prolific. He wrote well into his seventies before officially retiring in 2012. His work earned him numerous honors, including two National Book Awards, the Man Booker International Award, National Book Critics Circle awards, and a Pulitzer Prize. Sadly, though he was a perennial favorite, the Nobel Prize for Literature eluded him.
Roth's works blurred the line between autobiography and fiction, often centering on characters whose lives mirrored his own. Though he felt his identity as Jewish was secondary to his identity as an American, the characters and themes of his works often drew from his roots in the Jewish community, sometimes provoking ire from leaders within that community.
In total, Roth produced more than 30 novels and collections, receiving both critical acclaim and public popularity. Even during his lifetime, he was ranked among America's greatest authors, becoming only the third living writer (after Saul Bellow and Eudora Welty) to have his books included in the Library of America. His influence on literary fiction will continue to be felt far into the future. Famously, we at Brilliant Books have always carried every one of his books in our literature section. Both staff and customers frequently questioned the decision to devote so much space in one small store to one author. He was a giant, he justified the space.
Roth passed away on May 22nd from heart failure. He was 85.