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Philip Roth

Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 2012

Philip Roth (Newark, New Jersey, United States, 1933 - New York, United States, 2018) attended Bucknell University and then the University of Chicago, where he completed his M.A. and taught English Literature. He subsequently taught creative writing at both Iowa and Princeton and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He retired from teaching in 1992 to devote himself entirely to writing. He was considered the most representative writer of the so-called Jewish School of the North American novel.

His first book, Goodbye, Columbus (1959), a book of stories about Jewish life in America, placed him in the forefront of success and literary prestige in his country. The short story that lends its title to the book was made into a film in 1969. In Letting Go (1962), he recounts the agony of a young Jewish professor who is torn between reason and feelings. Portnoy’s Complaint (1969) is written in the form of an autobiography and recounts the sexual life of Alexander Portnoy through a monologue from his psychiatrist’s couch. The novels The Breast (1972) and The Great American Novel (1973) marked a shift towards fantasy literature, while My Life as a Man (1974) noted a return to more introspective themes. The books The Ghost Writer (1979), Zuckerman Unbound (1981), The Anatomy Lesson (1983), The Human Stain (2000) and Exit Ghost (2007) recount the life and career of the writer and central character Nathan Zuckerman. His most recent books were: Shop Talk: a Writer and His Colleagues and Their Works (2003), The Plot against America (2005), Everyman (2006), The Humbling (2009) and Nemesis (2010).

Philip Roth won the USA’s major literary awards during the 1990s: the National Book Critics Circle Award (1987 and 1992), the Faulkner Award (1993 and 2000) and the National Book Award (1960 and 1995). In 1997, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel American Pastoral. He also received the Czech Republic’s Karel Capek (1994) and Franz Kafka (2001) Awards. Outstanding among the recent awards with which he was distinguished are the Prix Médicis for best foreign novel (France, 2002), the Sidewise Award for Alternate History (UK, 2005) and the Nabokov Award (USA, 2006). In 2007, he received the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, for Everyman, and the PEN/Bellow Award. He holds the National Arts Club Medal of Honor (USA, 1991), the National Medal of Arts (USA, 1998), the Gold Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2001) and the Medal of the National Book Foundation (2002) for his contribution to American literature. Roth received the Man Booker International Prize in 2011.

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