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My brother Sandy

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The war and anti-Semitism
Philip Roth Writer
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The war made a big impression on me, maybe it did on... on the other kids around me as well, I don't really know, but I began very young to follow the war in the newspaper. My father and mother talked about the war news all the time, as did all the neighbors. They listened on the radio to the famous newscasters of that day and followed the war that way.

The newspaper came to the house every evening, my father brought it home from work with him, and so did the voices before the war of Hitler and Father Coughlin, who was an anti-Semitic priest who broadcast out of Detroit, Michigan, who my father would listen to on Sundays and go crazy. So although I never knew anti-Semitism directly in my young life and have barely known it in my life at all, I did know that it existed out there and that it was dangerous and that the Jews outside our little neighborhood were menaced, you know, both in the US and abroad, because anti-Semitism flourished in 1930s America, just as it flourished everywhere in the 1930s, America was no exception.

Born in March 1933, American writer Philip Roth's fame rests on the frank explorations of Jewish-American life he portrays in his novels. There is a strong autobiographical element in much of what he writes, alongside social commentary and political satire. Despite often polarising critics with his frequently explicit accounts of his male protagonists' sexual doings, Roth has 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: America

Duration: 1 minute, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013