Philip Roth Announces Retirement — Yet Again

Novelist Insists BBC Chat Is 'Last Appearance'


By Reuters

Published May 19, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Philip Roth, one of the world’s most revered novelists, confirmed he will retire from writing and public appearances in a final interview with the BBC.

Roth, 81, who has written more than 30 books and won numerous awards, spoke to the BBC for a two-part documentary shot in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, that will be broadcast on Tuesday and the following week.

“This is my last appearance on television, absolutely my last appearance on stage anywhere,” he tells presenter Alan Yentob, according to a preview released on Monday.

Roth made his announcement 18 months after he told a French magazine that his 31st book, “Nemesis”, about a fictional polio epidemic in 1944 that was published in 2010, would be his last.

Asked by Yentob about a statement in 2004 that he could not live without writing, Roth replied: “I was wrong. I had reached the end. There was nothing more for me to write about.

“I set out upon the great task of doing nothing. I’ve had a very good time over the last three or four years.”

Roth is one of America’s most lauded writers, with his novels exploring modern Jewish-American life. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 novel “American Pastoral”.

Best known for his semi-autobiographical and unreliable alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman, he first received critical attention aged 28 after winning the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction for his 1959 novella “Goodbye, Columbus”.

In his final interview, Roth discusses the impact of his most significant works, the BBC said in a statement.

“Philip Roth … has arguably had more to say about modern America than any other contemporary author,” the BBC said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.