New Roth

Philip Roth’s next novel, Everyman, will appear in May. His publisher, Houghton Mifflin, calls it “an elegant and deeply moving story of regret and loss in the shocking face of mortality.” (Via Sarah at Galleycat.)

Here’s James Wolcott on Roth as latter-day literary virtuoso:

Philip Roth is a miracle of modern medicine. Physically, he’s been falling apart since the 1960s, when he collapsed at the publication party for William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner and was sped into surgery for appendicitis, only to have doctors discover his stomach drowning in pus…. [I]n the 1980s and ’90s Roth took punches to the system — a nervous breakdown, an addiction to painkillers following a failed knee operation, bouts of depression, acute back pain, quintuple bypass surgery — that would have sent most men to the scrapheap. But Roth has proven as indestructible as Keith Richards, and less woozy. His writing betrays no signs of dotage, fatigue or midnight staggers; his brain still hums like a power plant; his raptor gaze remains as keen as ever. Roth’s productivity over the past ten years has been phenomenal and shaming. Novel after novel fired like a series of torpedoes — Sabbath’s Theater, American Pastoral (which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1997), I Married a Communist, The Human Stain, The Dying Animal and, now, The Plot Against America.

How has he been able to keep up this industrial output? By ruthlessly paring everything superfluous from his life, maintaining a pristine regimen in his own private Yaddo…. Unlike other writers who have thrown in their lot with the squirrels and berries, Roth hasn’t gone spiritual-naturalist or solipsistic up there in Sleepy Hollow. Chosen isolation has paradoxically softened the armored egotism of much of his earlier work, fully liberating a social panoramist with Proustian recall. It’s as if Roth U-Hauled the twentieth century with him up to the monastery, trying to make sense of it in light of contemporary madness.


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