Daily Israel Report

Literary World Says 'Goodbye, Philip'

Roth, considered by many to be one of the leading Jewish American literary voices of the 20th century, said he will no longer be writing.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 11/12/2012, 12:14 AM

Barnes and Nobles book store
Barnes and Nobles book store
Reuters

Philip Roth, considered by many to be one of the leading Jewish American literary voices of the twentieth century, announced that he will no longer be writing books.

The highly controversial figure, who first gained international recognition for his 1959 novella "Goodbye, Columbus"—an irreverent portrait of American Jewish life in post World War II that earned him the National Book Award for Fiction—announced his literary retirement in a rare interview with a French pop culture publication, Les Inrocks.

While the French publication is unfamiliar to most American readers, the news soon spread after hitting Twitter and other social networking sites.

In the interview set to promote the release the French edition of “Nemesis,” his latest novel, Roth confirmed that it will, in fact, be his last.

“I have no intention to write for the next ten years. Quite frankly, I’m done,” Roth said.

Roth, 78, said a few years ago he had set out to re-read some of the books he had loved in his younger years, and then decided to re-read his own works, starting backwards with “Nemesis” all the way to “Portnoy’s Complaint”—the humorous and sexually explicit psychoanalytic monologue of a lust-ridden, self-deprecating Jewish teenager, which although wildly received by the larger literary community, prompted harsh condemnations from much of the Jewish establishment.

“And after that I decided I was done with fiction,” said Roth, who has authored approximately 30 books and won scores of international awards.

“And if I write another book, it will probably be a flop,” he added. ”Who needs to read another mediocre book?” he says. “I’m 78, and I don’t know anything about America today. I watch it on TV. But I no longer live it.”

Roth said, though, that his retirement from fiction doesn’t mean he has been sitting idly at home. He told the interviewer that he has spent the last three years working on his archives for his biographer, Blake Bailey.  “If I die without leaving him something, where is he going to start?” Roth said.