Discipline: Literature – fiction

Philip Roth

Discipline: Literature – fiction
Region: Newark, NJ

Edward MacDowell Medalist: 2001

Philip Roth (1933-2018) was an American novelist who first gained attention with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus for which he received the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. Roth's family was Jewish, and his parents were first-generation Americans, whose families were from Galicia. He graduated from Newark's Weequahic High School in or around 1950. Roth attended Bucknell University, where he earned a B.A., magna cum laude in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where he received an M.A. in English literature in 1955 and worked briefly as an instructor in the university's writing program.

Roth's work first appeared in print in Chicago Review when he was studying, and later teaching, at the University of Chicago.

Much of Roth's fiction revolves around semi-autobiographical themes, while self-consciously and playfully addressing the perils of establishing connections between Roth and his fictional lives and voices. In his fiction, the question of authorship is intertwined with the theme of the idealistic, secular Jewish son who attempts to distance himself from Jewish customs and traditions, and from what he perceives as the sometimes suffocating influence of parents, rabbis, and other community leaders.