New Yorker: Philip Roth, the incomparable American novelist, has died at eighty-five

Philip Roth, the American literary icon whose novel “American Pastoral” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, in 1998, has died, at the age of eighty-five, according to friends close to him. His great subjects, as Claudia Roth Pierpont wrote in this magazine, in 2006, included “the Jewish family, sex, American ideals, the betrayal of American ideals, political zealotry, personal identity,” and “the human body (usually male) in its strength, its frailty, and its often ridiculous need.”

Roth published his first story in The New Yorker, “The Kind of Person I Am,” in 1958; the following year, another story in the magazine, “Defender of the Faith,” prompted condemnations from rabbis and the Anti-Defamation League. “His sin was simple: he’d had the audacity to write about a Jewish kid as being flawed,” David Remnick wrote in a Profile of Roth, in 2000. “He had violated the tribal code on Jewish self-exposure.” In 1979, in its June 25th and July 2nd issues, The New Yorker published—in its entirety—“The Ghost Writer,” the first of Roth’s novels to be narrated by his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. (As Claudia Roth Pierpont wrote, in 2013, Roth’s editor at the magazine, Veronica Geng, was the one to “march into the office of . . . William Shawn, put the manuscript on his desk, and say, ‘We should publish the whole thing.’ ”)

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