“In November last year, [novelist Philip] Roth declared that he would write no more novels. ‘I’m done,’ he said. Can it really be that this most prolific and prodigiously gifted novelist, this writer who, after his divorce from [British actress Claire] Bloom and retreat to rural Connecticut, began publishing a series of masterpieces in his sixties and seventies, will write no more? There has, I think, been nothing comparable to his late flourishing in the history of Anglo-American letters. It is difficult to accept that this has now come to an end.”—Jason Cowley, “Faces of Roth,” The Financial Times, March 16-17, 2013
Today marks the 80th birthday of novelist Philip Roth, who burst on the American literary scene in 1959 with a novella and group of short stories collected into Goodbye, Columbus (here is my take on the latter) and who has kept at his desk with a distinctly ascetic, monklike (and un-Portnoyesque) devotion ever since.
If Cowley is to be believed, Roth does not like to be asked about being snubbed for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Well, he wouldn’t be the first that the idiotic nominating committee in Scandinavia has bypassed. (Leo Tolstoy, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce and Graham Greene can all take their bows now.)