Philip Roth, whose sexually scandalous comic novel “Portnoy’s Complaint” brought him literary celebrity after its publication in 1969 and who was eventually hailed as one of America’s greatest living authors for the blunt force and controlled fury of his dozens of later works, died May 22 at a hospital in Manhattan. He was 85. His literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said the cause was congestive heart failure in confirming the death to the Associated Press. Mr. Roth’s 1959 debut story collection, “Goodbye, Columbus,” earned him the first of two National Book Awards. He would publish 27 novels, two memoirs and several more story collections by the time he publicly retired from writing in 2012. His lifelong themes included sex and desire, health and mortality, and Jewishness and its obligations — arguably his most definitive subject, given the controversy surrounding his earliest works. In later years, his focus shifted more frankly to the nation and its discontents, from the rise of Richard Nixon as a political figure in the early Cold War era to the sideshow of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in what became known as Mr. Roth’s “American Trilogy”: “American Pastoral” (1997), “I Married a Communist” (1998) and “The Human Stain” (2000)…. Read full this story
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