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November 11, 2012 12:58 pm

Author Philip Roth Says He’s Retiring

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Goodbye Columbus by Philip Roth.

The Jewish-American literary legend Philip Roth has told a French publication that he is retiring.

Roth, 79, told LesInrocks that he was finished writing novels and hadn’t written anything in three years.

In recent years Roth had published a spate of short novels, showing a late-life surge rare for most writers.

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Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1933, Roth broke out onto the literary scene in his 20s with the publication of  “Goodbye, Columbus” which won the National Book Award in 1960. Later novels such as “Portnoy’s Complaint” and “American Pastoral” brought critical acclaim and helped to cement his status as one of America’s leading fiction writers.

According to a translation on the French website of, Roth stated that having reached 79 made him take stock of his life. He reread his favorite novels as well as his own books.

“I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” he said.

“And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.”

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  • Roth is perhaps America’s greatest living novelist. He certainly should have won a Nobel Prize. It might have happened had he not been both American and Jewish. It is easier to be influenced by prejudice if one is judging literature rather than science.