The publisher for Philip Roth confirmed that the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Jewish novelist is retiring from writing.
The “Portnoy’s Complaint” author, whose voice was heard also through his alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman, announced his retirement during an interview last month with the French magazine Les Inrocks. Houghton Mifflin confirmed the decision Nov. 9, according to the Forward.
Roth, 79, won the Pulitzer Prize for “American Pastoral,” the National Book Award for “Sabbath’s Theater” and for the novella “Goodbye, Columbus,” and the International Man Booker Prize in 2011 for his body of work. He also was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Zuckerman appeared in nine of his 25 novels.
Roth, who has not written a new book in three years, told Les Inrocks that he wants nothing more to do with reading fiction, writing or talking about books.
“I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote, I read — to the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough,” he said. “I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced all my life. The idea of trying to write again is impossible.”
Roth said about five years ago that he reread classic novels by Ernest Hemingway, Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and others, and then reread his own novels in reverse order.
Though he did not want his biography to be written, Roth has cooperated with biographer Blake Bailey, saying that since he knows there will be biographies written about him, he wants to make sure one of them is correct.
Roth reportedly said that he has requested that his personal papers be destroyed after his death and his biography is completed. — jta