Philip Roth: "It’s as Though He’s Sitting on Your Face"

Slate's Culture Blog
May 18 2011 10:04 AM

Philip Roth: "It’s as Though He’s Sitting on Your Face"

It wasannounced today that Philip Roth has beenawarded the fourth Man Booker International Prize , a major award granted every other year to a living author who either writes in Englishor whose work is widely available in translation. But if you expected this to be a genteel celebration of one man's long, productive life in letters, think again.

Advertisement


Though thepanel had three members, the decision to award Roth the £60,000 prize was really made bytwo people, chair RickGekoski , an academic and rare-book dealer, and novelist Justin Cartwright .The third judge, Carmen Callil author and head of the feministpublishing house Virago withdrew from the panel in protest over the decision to grant Roth theaward. And how! The Guardian quotesher today as saying , "he goes on and on and on about the same subject inalmost every single book. It's as though he's sitting on your face and youcan't breathe." She goes on to say:

I don't rate him as a writer at all. Imade it clear that I wouldn't have put him on the longlist, so I was amazedwhen he stayed there. He was the only one I didn't admire-all the others werefine ... Roth goes to the core of their [Cartwright and Gekoski's] beings. But hecertainly doesn't go to the core of mine ... Emperor's clothes: in 20 years'time will anyone read him?

Callil willexpand her arguments in a column this Saturday in the GuardianReview , so Roth fans have a few days to rehearse their rebuttals

Slate would probably argue that we'll still be reading Roth in 20 years' time after all, we'vecovered nearly every new work of his since we were founded in 1996. You can checkout our Roth archives here:

MichaelGorra on 2010's Nemesis

JonathanRosen on 2008's Indignation

Stephen Metcalfon 2007's Exit Ghost  

Stephen Metcalfon 2006's Everyman (Metcalf, MeghanO'Rourke, and Katie Roiphe also discussed Everyman in our audio book clubpodcast )

JudithShulevitz and Nicholas Lemann on 2004's The Plot Against America ; David Greenberg on The Plot Against America

Alex Abramovich, in 2001, on whether Woody Allen and Philip Roth wereseparated at birth

JudithShulevitz and Brent Staples on 2000's The Human Stain

KathaPollitt and Philip Weiss on 1998's I Married a Communist

Paul Bermanon 1997's American Pastoral

Follow 
. For more culture coverage, like 
 on Facebook.

 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 3:19 PM In Defense of Congress Leaving Town Without a New War Vote
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 18 2014 3:31 PM What Europe Would Look Like If All the Separatist Movements Got Their Way
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 3:24 PM Symantec Removes Its “Sexual Orientation” Filter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 3:04 PM Pogo Returns With Another Utterly Catchy Disney Remix
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 2:39 PM Here's How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.