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Many enemies as a writer, many enemies as a Jew
Philip Roth Writer
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I went first to the artists' colony called Yaddo up in Saratoga Springs, New York, where I had been a guest in the past, and I spent about two or three months there. And then I found a house to rent in Woodstock, New York, which is way off in the hills, and I went there. And then two or three years later I found my house in Connecticut, which is also off in the hills. It was on two dirt roads, it was perfect for me – nobody could see it, nobody could get there, and so I moved in there in 1973 – or '72 or '73 – and I've been there ever since, and stepped away from this problem that I didn't like so much. But I did become... someone to conjure with, you know, and I was kind of stunned, I was kind of stunned. So I made many friends as a writer and I made many enemies as a writer and many enemies as a Jew. I was not quite as innocent as the boy who'd published Defender of the Faith in... in New Yorker in 1958, and a year or two had passed and I'd begun to learn a thing or two. But still, I didn't want to be around for the hoopla.

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: Yaddo, New York, Saratoga Springs, Woodstock, Connecticut, Defender of the Faith, New Yorker

Duration: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013