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Letting Go


Goodbye Columbus
Philip Roth Writer
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I moved to New York in whatever year it was, '58, I'd say, yeah. And I got a basement apartment on East 10th Street, near 2nd Avenue, and set myself up as a writer. My first book appeared the following year, '59, and that was Goodbye Columbus, which was a novella and it appeared first in the Paris Review, and with the novella there were five stories, three of which appeared in the Paris Review and one in The New Yorker and one in the Commentary Magazine. And the book came out and it... it got respectful reviews but nothing much happened to it. I got a Guggenheim, it took me abroad, and I went off to live in Italy for a year. And I was living in Rome that next spring when I got a telegram from my editor telling me that I'd won the National Book Award. So that was nice. And so there we were.

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: New York, Italy, Rome, Paris Review, The New Yorker, Commentary Magazine

Duration: 1 minute, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013