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Being an American


Death stuns me
Philip Roth Writer
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How about death. It stuns me. It stuns me. I'm familiar with it, as I wasn't say, 25 years ago. To begin with because of a family of four – my mother, my brother, my father and me – I'm the last one standing. And I know they're gone. I've known it for some time now. It's still stunning. Numerous of my friends have died, and I've been there at their funerals and at the memorial services and it's stunning. I was just in... in a church today, for reasons I won't go into, called St Bart's, which is on 51st Street and Park Avenue. I had something I had to do. And I remembered I'd been there a couple years back when Bill Styron's memorial service was held there, and I was shocked that Bill is dead. You know, I know he's been dead these few years, but being in that church where his service was, I was shocked. So I'm just shocked and stunned.

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: Bill Starnes

Duration: 1 minute, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013