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John Updike: ‘He rarely made a vulgar error’


John Updike: my distant friend
Philip Roth Writer
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Updike and I were... were friends at a distance.  We never really spent much time together.  When I would travel up to... to Boston for some reason or other, usually to see my publisher, I would call John and he'd come into Cambridge and we'd have lunch together.  And they were always amusing lunches.  Years earlier, we met on Martha's Vineyard in the '60s and John was there with his first wife, Mary Updike, and his... all his brood of children, who were then pretty young.  I was there with a lady-friend of mine and we were spending the summer there.  And we saw each other on the beach.  We laugh, there's a snapshot somewhere of... of me and Jules Feiffer with John Updike's dog, but not of... not of John.

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: Martha's Vineyard, John Updike, Mary Updike

Duration: 1 minute, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013