The American writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Roth passed away at the age of 85 tonight. That reports the New York Times. 


Roth was one of the greatest American writers of the second half of the last century  and won numerous literary prizes, including a Pulitzer in 1997 and the Man Booker International Prize (2011). He was also a big contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Modern eroticism

Philip Roth is one of the most important chroniclers of the Jewish middle class in the United States. Already his first book  Farewell, Columbus  (1959) garnered much praise. He did not shy away from controversies, as was evident from the publication of Portnoy’s complaint , the candid confession of a man sexually frustrated by his bossy mother. Partly for this novel he is called the historian of modern eroticism.

At the age of 24 he published his first stories in the renowned magazine New Yorker. Two years later his first book came out: Goodbye, Columbus , stories and stories written in a humorous way about the life of the Jewish middle class in the United States after the Second World War. Critics praised the book, but some in the American Jewish community objected that Roth had concentrated on less flattering sides of Judaism, such as materialism.

Dominant mother

In 1962, Roth’s first novel appeared:  Let go , followed five years later by  A good girl . They were psychological novels in which he addressed ethical and social problems of the 1950s. Both remain far behind in terms of familiarity with Portnoy’s complaint , the satirical novel that appeared in 1969. On the divan of the psychotherapist Dr. Spielvogel is Alexander Portnoy who is so burdened by his dominating mother that he only finds comfort when he masturbates. The book was partly based on the childhood experiences of the writer.

Many, many more works followed. Eight of his stories have been filmed.

Last work

Roth decided years ago that Nemesis (2010) would be his last book. He initially kept it to himself, according to his own words, because he did not want to follow in the footsteps of Frank Sinatra. That singer made a comeback after he stopped.

Roth officially announced in 2012 that he had stopped writing. After the publication of Nemesis, the author decided to re-read his earlier works, “to see if I have wasted my time”. Roth had withdrawn from public life for years. His 80th birthday, in 2013, was still celebrated publicly. According to a friend, the writer died of heart failure.