"We all wanted to be Philip Roth".
Philip Roth, whose notorious novels about the sex drives of American men gave way to some of the most probing examinations of the American Jewish condition in the 20th and 21st centuries, has died. His "Plot against America" found renewed significance under the Donald Trump presidency and he published "Nemesis", his final novel, in 2010, before announcing his retirement in 2012.
Sexual desire resonates through many of Mr. Roth's works.
"You can't invent out of nothing, or I can't certainly", he said in a 2011 documentary.
RottenTomatoes: NA; IMDb: 5.1 Richard Benjamin starred in a version of Roth's 1969 novel about "a lust-ridden, mother-addicted young Jewish bachelor".
"I did not want to, did not intend to, and was not able to speak for American Jews; I surely did not deny, and no one questioned the fact, that I spoke to them, and I hope to others as well", Roth wrote in his essay "Writing About Jews".
A prolific essayist and critic, Roth was best known for mining the Jewish-American experience in his work.
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His 2004 novel, The Plot Against America, imagines an alternative history in which Franklin D. Roosevelt is defeated in the presidential election of 1940 by the pro-Nazi demagogue Charles Lindbergh. "I know exactly what it means to be Jewish and it's really not interesting", he told the Guardian newspaper in 2005. But he received virtually every other literary honour, including two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle prizes and, in 1998, the Pulitzer for American Pastoral.
Born in Newark, New Jersey - a state that would appear often as a setting in his fiction - Roth grew up in a Jewish, middle-class family and attended Rutgers University before transferring to Bucknell University and a stint in the U.S. Army.
"The death of Philip Roth marks, in its way, the end of a cultural era as definitively as the death of Pablo Picasso did in 1973", he wrote.
His work often blurred the lines between lived and imagined experience, with characters sometimes named after the author or those close to him and alter-ego narrators, like Nathan Zuckerman, reappearing across his many novels.
Roth, who was now living in Manhattan and CT at the time of his death, was arguably the most significant New Jersey-born novelist of the 20th Century and many of his works are considered American classics.
The book topped The New York Times best-seller list for the year and turned its reclusive author into a celebrity - an uncomfortable position that he would later satirise in novels such as "Zuckerman Unbound" (1981) and "Operation Shylock" (1993).
In 1990, Roth married actress Claire Bloom after seven years of dating. "I was by this time no longer in possession of the mental vitality or the physical fitness needed to mount and sustain a large creative attack of any duration", Roth mentioned in a recent interview about his decision. "In my life I have had, in total, a couple of months of these completely wonderful days as a writer, and that is enough".