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'I catch them where they're weak'


What tells you a book's not right for you?
Philip Roth Writer
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I can tell if it's not right for me.  I... I may... for instance, I'm... I'm not a fan of Nabokov's, with the exception of Lolita and Speak, Memory and... and Pnin, I like all those.  But I don't like Ada, Ada... Ada... a Pale Fire, particularly those two.  It's not for me, and I no longer have to read books that aren't for me.  So, one, you can tell... one you can say a book is bad, and the other you can say a book is not right for you.  If... I think it's safer to say it's not right for you. 

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: Vladimir Nabokov

Duration: 41 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013