Philip Roth, a leading American novelist for more than 50 years, won the Man Booker International Prize for his literary achievements.
Roth, 78, has been a prolific voice since his 1960 novel “Goodbye Columbus” gave him the first of two National Book Awards. “Portnoy’s Complaint,” one of the most revered novels of the 20th Century, was published in 1969. He has won numerous awards, including two National Book Critics Circle awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the 1997 novel, “American Pastoral.” Roth has been given the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal.
The award was announced Wednesday during the Sydney Writers’ Festival in Sydney. The Man Booker is awarded every two years. Roth’s award will be given next month in London.
Rick Gekoski, chairman of the judges, said, “For more than 50 years Philip Roth’s books have stimulated, provoked and amused an enormous, and still expanding, audience. His imagination has not only recast our idea of Jewish identity, it has also reanimated fiction, and not just American fiction, generally.’’
In a statement Roth said, “One of the particular pleasures I’ve had as a writer is to have my work read internationally despite all the heartaches of translation that that entails. I hope the prize will bring me to the attention of readers around the world who are not familiar with my work. This is a great honour.”
Throughout his career Roth’s work has met both praise and controversy. That trend followed his Man Booker selection. One judge, Carmen Callil, the founder of Virago Press, a feminist publisher, withdrew from the judging panel, according to an online report in the New York Times. “I don’t rate him as a writer at all,” Callil said in the report.
The Man Booker committee posted a video of Roth’s acceptance remarks.