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My altruistic father


Our neighborhood's mission
Philip Roth Writer
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So this… I guess I'm talking about my… my budding cultural life. I should add that even though… oh, I said we had my uncle's paintings on the wall. The families in our neighborhood – it was a Jewish neighborhood – were all hell bent on getting their kids educated. And every kid I knew, knew in the second grade that he was going to go to college, even though no parent had gone to college. And they did, they all went. Moreover, the high school I went to, which was the same kids I went to grade school with, had more students who had gone on to advanced degrees and professional degrees than any other high school in the state. So this… this neighborhood had a mission, and their mission was to give these kids, and I was one of them, every advantage they could possibly have through education, because they weren't going to get that advantage through money; nobody was going to inherit any money.

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: neighbourhood, education, college, high school, mission

Duration: 1 minute, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013