Philip Roth, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who wrote about male lust, Jewish life and America, died Tuesday night at a hospital in New York.
He was 85.
Roth died of congestive heart failure 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.
“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 one of America’s most prolific 20th century novelists, with a career that spanned decades and more than two dozen books. In addition to a Pulitzer for fiction writing, he won other top literary honors, including National Book Awards and PEN/Faulkner Awards.
People we lost in 2018
Photos: People we lost in 2018
“From the beginning of his long and celebrated career, Philip Roth’s fiction has often explored the human need to demolish, to challenge, to oppose, to pull apart,” the Pulitzer committee said when it awarded him the prize two decades ago for “American Pastoral.”
No more writing
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.
“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.”
After he stopped writing, he spent his free time reading and swimming, and meeting friends.
“He was such a driven perfectionist, so when he felt his power ebbing, he wanted to quit at the top of his game, and he did,” Thurman said. Read more