October 12 , 2010

Roth Unbound


Philip Roth – one of the most renowned writers of his generation – hardly needs introduction. From his debut, Goodbye, Columbus, which won the National Book Award, to his Pulitzer Prize-winning American Pastoral, to his eternally inventive later works such as Exit Ghost and Nemesis, Roth has produced some of the greatest literature of the past hundred years. And yet there has been no major critical work about him, until now.

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Here, at last, is the story of Roth’s creative life. Claudia Roth Pierpont tells an engaging story even as she delves into the many complexities of Roth’s work and the controversies it has raised. This is not a biography – though it contains many biographical details – but something more rewarding: an attempt to understand a great writer through his art.

Pierpont, who has known Roth for several years, peppers her gracefully written and carefully researched account with conversational details, providing insights and anecdotes previously accessible only to a very few, touching on Roth’s family, his inspirations, his critics, the full range of his fiction, and his literary friendships with such figures as Saul Bellow and John Updike.

Roth Unbound is a major achievement, a fascinating and highly readable work that will set the standard for Roth scholarship for years to come.

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