Philip Roth, one of the leading novelists of his generation, has announced he is retiring from writing. Roth, 78, told Les Inrocks last month, “To tell you the truth, I’m done. Nemesis[published in 2010] will be my last book.” His publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, confirmed his retirement. “He said it was true,” said Lori Glazer, vice president and executive director of publicity.
Roth’s books dealt with themes relating to modern Jewish life. Among his best-known works are Goodbye, Columbus; Portnoy’s Complaint, the collection Zuckerman Bound, and The Human Stain.
“I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” Roth told interviewer Nelly Kaprielian “And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said, ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.
“And after that, I decided that I was done with fiction. I do not want to read, to write more,” he said. “I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life.”
Roth, a native of Newark, NJ, married his longtime companion, English actress Claire Bloom, in 1990. In 1994 they separated, and in 1996 Bloom published a memoir, Leaving a Doll’s House, which described the couple’s marriage in detail, much of which was unflattering to Roth. Certain aspects of Roth’s I Married a Communist have been regarded by critics as veiled rebuttals to accusations put forth in Bloom’s memoir.
Roth has received numerous honors for his books, including three PEN/Faulkner Awards (Operation Shylock,The Human Stain, and Everyman) and the Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 novel American Pastoral.