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Not wanting to be a writer


The Others
Philip Roth Writer
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And so how did I get out? I got out by going… going to college, and I deliberately chose a school… I didn't know anything about the damn place, but I knew that they were mostly not… they were not Jews, and I was curious. What will it be like? What will it be like? So I went and I discovered something, I suppose. I guess I became familiar… I began to become familiar with the Others and was at ease with the Others.

[Q] That's the Others with a capital O?

Yeah, the Others with a capital O. All the Others… and now, it was a very conservative school. The Others there were all white, all Caucasian, mostly from… mostly from American stock, as opposed to immigrant stock. So there… now, I don't want to make it sound too planned, that I planned this, or that I went out there observing, I had my job to do, I was a student, I studied, I had friends, I had a girlfriend and so on. But I was in a new environment and there wasn't a Jew in back of me, and alongside of me and in front of me, which was interesting. I think that was the beginning of my… of my little discovery of America.

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: Bucknell University

Duration: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013