Prolific Jewish-American author Philip Roth, 79, has decided to retire after a career that lasted more than 50 years, his publisher Houghton Mifflin confirmed Nov. 9.
“I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life,” Roth said in a recent interview with a French publication called Les Inrocks, according to an English translation of the interview posted by Salon last week.
Houghton Mifflin reached out to Roth when the French interview was published. “He said [news of his retirement] was true,” said Lori Glazer, vice president and executive director of publicity at Houghton Mifflin.
Roth has won a number of prestigious writing awards. He gained fame with his 1959 book Goodbye, Columbus and later his 1969 book Portnoy’s Complaint, in which he gained international fame for his psychoanalytical monologue of “a lust-ridden, mother addicted young Jewish bachelor.” He later won a Pulitzer Price for his 1997 novel American Pastoral. His final book is the short story Nemesis, published in 2010.
Houghton Mifflin confirmed the decision last Friday, according to The Forward.
Roth, who has not written a new book in three years, told Les Inrocks that he wants nothing more to do with reading fiction, writing or talking about books.
“I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote, I read — to the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough!" he said. "I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced all my life. The idea of trying to write again is impossible.”
Roth said about five years ago that he reread classic novels by Ernest Hemingway, Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and others, and then reread his own novels in reverse order.
Though he did not want a biography to be written about him, Roth has cooperated with biographer Blake Bailey, saying that since he knows there will be biographies written about him he wants to make sure one of them is correct.
Roth reportedly said that he has requested that his personal papers be destroyed after his death and his biography is completed.