Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Philip Roth, who wrote about Jewish life, male lust and America died from congestive heart failure on Tuesday in a Manhattan hospital, according to reports. He was 85.
Roth was surrounded by close friends and family, his friend Judith Thurman said. The people who visited him in his final days came from all walks of life, from writers and lifelong friends, to people he’s helped and inspired along the way, FOX 61 reports.
“He was an incredibly generous person. Always very exigent, and he held you to a very high standard — and he held himself to an even higher standard,” Thurman said. “He was, in my opinion, a very great writer and a very great man.”
Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 19, 1933. He briefly attended the Newark branch of Rutgers University before he transferred to Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, to discover “the rest of America,” according to the Philip Roth Society. He got his master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1955.
After his graduation, he enlisted in the Army but was discharged after he suffered a back injury. He returned to his Chicago alma mater, where he was an English instructor while he wrote fiction.
A few years later, his first book was published.
Roth, who often employed his Newark upbringing as an anchor in his writing, was most famous for his novels/novellas “Goodbye, Columbus” (1959), “Portnoy’s Complaint” (1969), “The Plot Against America” (2004), and 1997’s “American Pastoral,” for which Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, NJ.Com reports.
A prolific writer, Roth penned more than two dozen novels between 1959 and 2010, in addition to numerous short stories, essays and nonfiction pieces that appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, New York Times Book Review and many more publications.
In 2012, he announced that his most recent book, “Nemesis,” published two years prior, would be the last one. He made the decision after he reread all his books, FOX 61 reported.
“I decided that I was done with fiction,” he said at the time.”I don’t want to read any more of it, write any more of it, and I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. … I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life.”
Our thoughts and prayers as well as our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and fans.