Philip Roth's writing career spans a remarkable five decades, a period that has seen him rise to become one of the greatest chroniclers of post-war American life. Collected here are some of the finest interviews, essays and articles discussing his own fiction and the range of controversies that it sparked, including his long interview with the Paris Review. Here too are Roth's writings on American fiction, Milan Kundera, baseball, and his deep admiration for Franz Kafka. Coursing through each of these pieces is the Sheer Playfulness and Deadly Seriousness that have defined Roth's writing for half a century.
In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House, and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians' Prize for `the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004'. Recently Roth received PEN's two most prestigious prizes: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award `for a body of work . . . of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship' and in 2007 the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, given to a writer whose `scale of achievement over a sustained career . . . places him or her in the highest rank of American literature'. In 2011 Roth won the International Man Booker Prize. Roth is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America.