After more than 50 years as a writer, Roth decided that 2010's 'Nemesis, ' the story of a polio epidemic in the Newark, New Jersey, neighborhood where he grew up, would be his last novel.
Philip Roth, whose raucous, playful, elegant and often outrageous novels about Jewish life and sex and death and betrayal made him one of the country's greatest novelists, has died at age 85.
The celebrated and controversial author of "Portnoy's Complaint", "The Counterlife" and other novels was 85.
Roth died in a New York hospital of congestive heart failure on Tuesday night, The New York Times reports. He tackled the issue of racial identity in "The Human Stain" (2000), imagined what America might have been like if Charles Lindbergh had won the presidency in 1940 in "The Plot Against America" (2004), and examined American dreams in the late 1960s and early 1970s in "American Pastoral" (1997), for which he won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Although Goodbye, Columbus won the National Book Award, older Jewish leaders objected to its portrayal of a conflict between a stuck-up, well-to-do Jewish family in New Jersey and a young working-class Jewish man from Newark. "The epithet American-Jewish writer has no meaning for me".
"No one I know of has foreseen an America like the one we live in today", he said.
He added that Roth "has done more than anyone to further the literary exploration of the Holocaust, in his own writings, and by promoting great works and writers throughout the world".
The writer, regarded as a leading chronicler of the American experience, produced more than 25 novels including American Pastoral, Sabbath's Theater and The Human Stain, in a career spanning six decades.
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He graduated from Bucknell and pursued a master's degree from the University of Chicago graduating in 1955. A panel moderator berated him for his comic portrayals of Jews, asking Roth if he would have written the same books in Nazi Germany.
The book's narrator and frequent Roth alter ego Nathan Zuckerman tells the story of his former high-school classmate, Swede, whose suburban life is destroyed when his daughter becomes involved with a domestic terrorist group.
In 2010, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.
Roth was married twice, first to Margaret Martinson Williams, from whom he divorced in 1963, and then to stage actress Claire Bloom.
"I don't want to read any more of it, and I don't even want to talk about it anymore. I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life".
Some critics said Roth's novels exposed him as a self-hating Jew who played on negative stereotypes or generally cast Jews in a bad light.
He first Wednesday Margaret Martinson Williams in 1959 but the couple divorced four years later.
The second in his set of "apprentice work", When She Was Good, which followed his debut by five years, was published in 1967.