This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for March 19, 2017: Susanna

Mar. 19, 2017: birthday: Philip Roth

It’s the birthday of novelist Philip Roth (books by this author), born in Newark, New Jersey (1933). His father was an insurance salesman, and both his parents were the children of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. He majored in English and taught it, and he became friends with Saul Bellow, who told him that he was talented and should keep writing. In 1959, when he was 26 years old and teaching at the University of Chicago, he published his first book, a novella and short stories titled Goodbye, Columbus,and it won the National Book Award. He wrote two novels, which got mixed reviews, and then for five years he didn’t publish anything at all, but lived in New York City and did a lot of analysis. Then he published Portnoy’s Complaint (1969), which is entirely made up of a monologue delivered by a patient, Alexander Portnoy, to his analyst. It got rave reviews from critics, and its sexual content made it controversial and also extremely popular — it was the best-selling book of 1969.