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John Updike


How I met Saul Bellow
Philip Roth Writer
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In 1956 or so when I came out of the Army and went back to Chicago to... to teach a freshman composition, I had a friend, a good friend – still my good friend, named Dick Stern, a writer, a very good writer – and he was teaching at the... at the university as well.   And he had a class to which he invited writers as visitors and they would come one week and they would read some poems by his... his students or... if it was a poet... or some stories if it was a fiction writer.  And when Bellow was coming to Dick's class, Dick had read a story that I'd written called The Conversion of the Jews and he said he didn't have a story from his class for Bellow to read.  Could he use this story of mine?  Well, of course, I was thrilled.  And so I was a young faculty member, and so Dick had the class and I went and sat in the back of the class and Bellow talked about this story and so did the kids.  And he was very enthusiastic about it.  And that was when I met him.  So he never was my teacher, he was a... a teacher in the... at the university.

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: Saul Bellow, Dick Stern

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013