Philip Roth’s American Portraits and American Prophecy

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The novelist and short-story writer Philip Roth died in May at the age of eighty-five. In novels like “Portnoy’s Complaint,” “The Human Stain,” and “American Pastoral,” Roth anatomized postwar American life—particularly the lives of Jewish people in the Northeast. And in works like “The Ghost Writer” and “The Plot Against America,” he speculated on how the shadow of authoritarianism might fall over the United States. The breadth and depth of Roth’s work kept him a vital literary figure throughout the second half of the twentieth century, and established him among the most respected writers of fiction in American history. David Remnick speaks with Roth’s official biographer, Blake Bailey, about Roth’s life and career. Judith Thurman, Claudia Roth Pierpont, and Lisa Halliday discuss the portrayals of women in Roth’s work and the accusations of misogyny that he has faced. And, finally, we hear an interview with the author, from 2003, when he sat down with David Remnick for the BBC. Plus: the actor Liev Schreiber reads excerpts from Roth’s fiction.

This episode originally aired on July 20, 2018.

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