American Writer Philip Roth Shares with Web of Stories Details of His Life and Work on His 80th Birthday

As he celebrates his 80th birthday on 19 March 2013, renowned American writer Philip Roth shares with Web of Stories intimate and enthralling details of his life and work.

London, United Kingdom, March 20, 2013 --( Born in America in 1933, Roth is one of the world’s most prolific writers, best known for his 1969 novel Portnoy's Complaint and for his late-1990s trilogy comprising the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Pastoral (1997), I Married a Communist (1998) and The Human Stain (2000). He has been one of the most honoured authors of his generation, receiving many prestigious literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1997 and the Man Booker International Prize in 2011.

In this series of newly-released clips, Roth provides a fascinating insight into his life, including his ongoing passion for literature: "I had a very vigorous literary education. I read a helluva lot in college… and graduate school. My reading really began again post-university, when I began teaching. I educated myself, through teaching, teaching novels, and I read every major writer and taught books by every major writer."

He recounts the conversation with his parents just before Portnoy's Complaint was published, where he warned them of what was to come: "I have a book coming out… and it’s going to be a big sensation... because there’s a lot of obscenity in it, and it’s about a Jewish family… You are not the parents in this book, it’s not about us… You’re going to get calls, maybe even visits, from journalists… TV people… magazine people..." He also reveals his mother’s reaction to the conversation. "She got into the taxi cab and began to cry… [she said] “He has delusions of grandeur. I can’t bear to think about how disappointed he’s going to be."

He discusses their reaction to the book, revealing how his father offered signed copies of the book to friends, autographing them himself, "From Philip Roth’s father, Herman: ‘I don’t know what suffering they suffered, they may well have been hurt by things in the book, but they weren’t like that [the characters]… but they never were aggrieved as a result.'"

Roth also confides his thoughts on death: "It stuns me. I’m familiar with it, as I wasn’t say... 25 years ago… Of a family of four, I’m the last one standing… I know they’re gone. I’ve known it for some time now. It’s still stunning. And numerous of my friends have died… I’m shocked and stunned."

This insightful, never-before-seen footage of Roth, alongside his existing recordings, can be watched as a number of short clips, with a fully searchable transcript. All Web of Stories videos are easy to share with friends and colleagues, and may be embedded into personal blogs and websites.
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Reena Takhar
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