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The Others


Craving for something bigger
Philip Roth Writer
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Eventually, of course, it became – living there – became, not suffocating, but… I thought I could do more, I thought there must be more. There must be more… What are all these other Americans like, you know? You can put that question several ways; what are Christians like? And I had my Whitey, my friend down the street, and I had the… Tony next door and… but I couldn't piece it together, I didn't know. It was a blank; it was a great blank. America was a blank for me and I wanted very much when I got to be 16 to get out into what I called America. Not that I didn't think our neighborhood was America, but it was one America and there were loads of Americas. I read about them in Sherwood Anderson, I read about them in Theodore Dreiser, I read about them in Thomas Wolfe, and through those books that I read, because my brother brought that newspaper home, through those books I read, I wanted to get out into the big thing, and I wasn't alone… I wasn't alone.

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: Newark, America, Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, Thomas Wolfe

Duration: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013