JTA — American-Jewish novelist Philip Roth has retired from writing. The author of “Portnoy’s Complaint,” whose voice was also heard through his alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman, announced his retirement during an interview last month with the French magazine “Les Inrocks.” His publisher, Houghton Mifflin, confirmed the decision on Nov. 9.
Roth, 79, won a Pulitzer Prize for “American Pastoral,” the National Book Award for “Sabbath’s Theater,” and for the novella “Goodbye, Columbus,” and the International Man Booker Prize in 2011 for his body of work, and was up for, but never received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Roth has not written a new book in three years. He told the magazine that he wants nothing more to do with reading fiction, writing or talking about books.
“I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote, I read – to the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced all my life. The idea of trying to write again is impossible,” he told the magazine.
Roth said about five years ago he reread classic novels by Ernest Hemingway, Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and others, and then reread his own novels in reverse order.
Though he did not want a biography to be written about him, Roth has cooperated with biographer Blake Bailey, saying that since he knows there will be biographies written about him he wants to make sure one of them is correct.
Roth reportedly said that he has requested that his personal papers be destroyed after his death and after his biography is completed.