After more than 50 years and 26 novels, many of them considered opuses, Philip Roth has decided to retire from writing fiction.
Roth, 79, made the announcement last month in an interview with French publication Les Inrocks, though his decision was only recently noticed by American publications.
“To tell you the truth, I’m done,” said Roth, who has been tight-lipped about the subject.
Salon, it's believed, was the first in the U.S. to report Roth's retirement. The website translated the French interview into English and confirmed Roth's announcement with his publisher Houghton Mifflin.
In recent years, Roth, told Inrocks, he hasn't focused on writing, but rather on reading. He reread all of his favorite novels and then did the same for all of the books he'd written. The purpose, he said, was to put his career into perspective.
“I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” Roth said. “And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said:‘ I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.”
“Nemesis,” which Roth released in 2010, was his last novel, he told Inrocks. The novel explores the effect of the Polio epidemic on a closely knit Jewish community in Newark during World War Two.
Of Roth's 26 novels, many explored semi-autobiographical coming-of-age themes and familial relationships in Jewish communities. Roth has been a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature throughout much of his storied career. He won two National Book Awards (one for his 1959 debut , “Goodbye, Columbus," the other for 1995's “Sabbath's Theater”) and the Pulitzer Prize for “American Pastoral,” which was published in 1997.
Roth admitted to Inrocks that he'd dedicated his life to the novel. “Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life,” he said.