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Every American writer has to write a book about baseball


Philip Roth Writer
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After Portnoy's Complaint I took a strange path, it looks… that's how it looks to me now, but I know what I was doing – what I was doing was trying to find out how far I could get with farce. In a way I'd begun that of course in Portnoy's Complaint, which is a farcical book, they treat people… people are treated farcically. Portnoy treats himself as a figure of in farce and of farce. The satire is self-satire most of the time, so I wanted to see how far I could go with comedy, farce, satire, slapstick, grotesquery, whatever, and I wrote a series of books in which I... experimented. The next book I wrote was called: Our Gang, and Our Gang is a flat out broad satire of Nixon and the Nixon administration. I never was an admirer of Nixon's, I couldn't stand him, I thought he was awful and so I wrote this book.



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: Portnoy's Complaint, Our Gang, Richard Nixon

Duration: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013