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My friends in New York


A dry period (1962 – 1967)
Philip Roth Writer
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Letting Go was received okay, it got some respectful reviews, but then I entered into a dry period and I've never gone so long between books as I did back then, I never did before and I never did after. But between 1962, when Letting Go was published, and 1967 when When She Was Good was published, my third book, I published nothing. And I published nothing for several reasons, I think. One is, I was stymied in a way as to what kind of writer I was, and now things were getting serious and I didn't… I didn't know what to do next. I didn't know what subject to cease hold of next, I didn't know how to cease hold of it. Letting Go had been very different from... from Goodbye Columbus and now I was wondering what do I do after this. And secondly, I had been married for a couple of years – from '59 to '62, I think – and that... that broke up, that marriage broke up, and it was a very difficult period for me, and that too prevented me from feeling free enough to work easily. But... in '67 I published When She Was Good, which was a book with no Jews in it.

The fame of the American writer Philip Roth (1933-2018) rested on the frank explorations of Jewish-American life he portrayed in his novels. There is a strong autobiographical element in much of what he wrote, alongside social commentary and political satire. Despite often polarising critics with his frequently explicit accounts of his male protagonists' sexual doings, Roth received a great many prestigious literary awards which include a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1997, and the 4th Man Booker International Prize in 2011.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Letting Go, When She Was Good

Duration: 1 minute, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013