Philip Roth biography

Philip Roth

Novelist, Author

1933 –


Who is Philip Roth?

Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist.

He first gained attention with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of American-Jewish life for which he received the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. Roth's fiction, regularly set in Newark, New Jersey, is known for its intensely autobiographical character, for philosophically and formally blurring the distinction between reality and fiction, for its "supple, ingenious style" and for its provocative explorations of Jewish and American identity. His profile rose significantly in 1969 after the publication of the controversial Portnoy's Complaint, the humorous and sexually explicit psychoanalytical monologue of "a lust-ridden, mother-addicted young Jewish bachelor," filled with "intimate, shameful detail, and coarse, abusive language."

Roth is one of the most awarded U.S. writers of his generation: his books have twice received the National Book Award, twice the National Book Critics Circle award, and three times the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Famous Quotes:

  • I write fiction and I'm told it's autobiography, I write autobiography and I'm told it's fiction, so since I'm so dim and they're so smart, let them decide what it is or it isn't.
  • I cannot and do not live in the world of discretion, not as a writer, anyway. I would prefer to, I assure you -- it would make life easier. But discretion is, unfortunately, not for novelists.
  • Is an intelligent human being likely to be much more than a large-scale manufacturer of misunderstanding?
  • My God! The English language is a form of communication! Conversation isn't just crossfire where you shoot and get shot at! Where you've got to duck for your life and aim to kill! Words aren't only bombs and bullets -- no, they're little gifts, containing meanings!
  • A Jew without Jews, without Judaism, without Zionism, without Jewishness, without a temple or an army or even a pistol, a Jew clearly without a home, just the object itself, like a glass or an apple.
  • A Jewish man with parents alive is a fifteen-year-old boy, and will remain a fifteen-year-old boy until they die!
  • Just like those who are incurably ill, the aged know everything about their dying except exactly when.
  • Undermining experience, embellishing experience, rearranging and enlarging experience into a species of mythology.
  • It isn't that you subordinate your ideas to the force of the facts in autobiography but that you construct a sequence of stories to bind up the facts with a persuasive hypothesis that unravels your history's meaning.
  • When you publish a book, it's the world's book. The world edits it.


Use the citation below to add to a bibliography:


"Philip Roth." STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 7 May 2021. <>.

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Mar 19, 1933
Also known as
  • Philip Milton Roth
  • Bard of Newark
  • Judaism
  • Jewish people
  • Jewish American
  • United States of America
  • Master of Arts, University of Chicago
    English Literature
    ( - 1955)
  • Bachelor's degree, Bucknell University
    English Literature
  • Rutgers University
  • Weequahic High School
Lived in
  • Newark
  • Warren

on July 23, 2013

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