Legendary US author Philip Roth dead at 85

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Finally tonight, we remember the prolific writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Philip Roth. Whether or when Roth would be awarded the prize was a frequent topic of discussion (paywall) among literary enthusiasts, especially as Roth entered his 80s and had seemingly won everything else, including a Pulitzer and a Man Booker International Prize.

He referred to Philip - who is behind books The Ghost Writer, The Plot Against America and The Humbling - as the "greatest living writer" in a touching message.

Roth announced he was retiring from writing in 2012, though remained a figure of fascination to the media, who occasionally earned a few minutes with him for a profile, and New Yorkers who occasionally saw him out and about. He was also won of the most decorated writers of his generation, having won the Putlizer, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, a Man Booker International Prize and three PEN/Faulkner awards.

'I decided that I was done with fiction, ' he said at the time.

"It's a bit like hearing that Keith Richards has given up rock and roll, or that the Pope is abandoning religion", the critic James Walton wrote at the time. "As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe", he said. To evaluate his work, he quoted this phrase he said towards end of his life boxer Joe Louis: "I did best I could with what I had".

'The Plot Against America, ' published in 2004, imagines what would have happened had flying ace Charles Lindbergh, an isolationist who expressed anti-Semitic views, defeated Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 election and signed a peace accord with Adolf Hitler.

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"The time is running out", he told an interviewer matter-of-factly back in 2011.

He published his debut collection of short stories, "Goodbye, Columbus", at the age of 26 - a close-to-the-bone look at the materialist values of the Jewish immigrant milieu in which grew up. But for Roth the American experience and the Jewish experience were often the same.

Roth acknowledged as much in an interview this year with The New York Times, saying he was "no longer in possession of the mental vitality or the physical fitness needed to mount and sustain a large creative attack of any duration".

He first achieved fame for his 1969 novel Portnoy's Complaint, about a horny teenager named Alexander Portnoy. Roth is one of only a handful of fiction authors to have won two National Book Awards (for "Goodbye, Columbus" and "Sabbath's Theater", 1994).

Claire Bloom was his second wife, with the pair exchanging vows in 1990 and separating in 1995.

In the words of his contemporary novelist John Updike: "As the wronged ex-wife of Philip Roth, she shows him to have been, as their marriage rapidly unraveled, neurasthenic to the point of hospitalisation, adulterous, callously selfish and financially vindictive". "If I'm not an American, I'm nothing", said Roth.

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