A dominant force in American literature throughout the latter half of the 20th century Philip Roth has died at the age of 85.
His literary agent Andrew Wylie confirmed the death, said the cause was congestive heart failure. Roth won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his acclaimed novel “American Pastoral.”
A prolific essayist and critic, Roth was best known for mining the Jewish-American experience in his work.He first achieved fame for his 1969 novel “Portnoy’s Complaint,” about a horny teenager named Alexander Portnoy. His titanic stature on the post-World War II literary scene came from the universality of his message — in his own words: “I don’t write Jewish, I write American.”
“I’m in a state of shock. I’m stunned and speechless. He was a truth teller,” said Roth’s friend Judith Thurman, also a writer.
He long managed to sustain his literary output both in terms of quality as well as quantity, as exemplified by his widely admired political trilogy that included “American Pastoral”, “I Married a Communist” (1998) and “The Human Stain” (2000).
The decorated author won most top literary honors, but the coveted Nobel Literature Prize eluded him.