Philip Roth: explorer of a golden age’s dark corners

Roth’s work evokes the sense of endless opportunity postwar America seemed to promise

The legend of Philip Roth had become so great, it was almost a shock to be reminded that he was, until Tuesday, still a living writer. He had become part of the Mount Rushmore of American letters, hailed by the New York Times as “the last of the great white males”, his place secure alongside Saul Bellow and John Updike, themselves both long gone, as one of the towering figures of 20th-century American literature.

He had won every accolade, bar the Nobel, and in 2005 the Library of America announced it would publish Roth’s works, lifting him into a pantheon that included the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Walt Whitman, only the third writer ever to receive that honour while still drawing breath. Roth was of such an elevated stature that in dying, he seemed to be joining his peers.

Related: Philip Roth obituary

Related: ‘Savagely funny and bitingly honest’ – 14 writers on their favourite Philip Roth novels

Portnoy's Complaint (1969)

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Labour’s fudge over Brexit may have worked once. But it can’t go on

It’s the May bank holiday weekend, and all is just as tradition demands. The sun is shining, the local election results are in, and Ken Livingstone is on the television talking about Hitler. To complete the spring picture, partisans and pundits are out in force, frantically spinning or interpreting the results of last night’s council contests in England, hoping to divine what the votes in 150 local authority areas portend for the nation’s future.

Published by: The Guardian