Philip Roth Is No Longer the Greatest Living American Novelist



Another excellent, well-written Sean Nelson piece. Roth is one of those writers I encountered too early in life, I think I need to re-visit him now, thx.
And I am glad to see you allowing comments now.
Speaking of which, Ken I owe you an apology for the other day. You made a post that was satirical in nature and I missed the satire and reacted rather poorly I'm afraid.
I spend too much time in the comments section of platforms where the type of sentiments you expressed are made in deadly earnest, where non-white lives have zero value.
The Stranger has its own cadre of such people so I flipped out. sorry.


First off, shocked to see Sean Nelson allow comments on a post. Shocked in a good way.

Y'know, because of a #MeToo scandal in the Nobel committee, there was no Nobel Prize in Literature this year. Makes you wonder, if only there hadn't been that scandal, would Roth have won it this year? Probably not, but you can't absolutely say no.

Speaking of our #MeToo era, I also wonder whether there's going to be a push to sweep Roth and his writing into the dustbin of history. This is where I am embarrassed to say I haven't read any of his work.

One other thought. Another giant of American literature (one I have read and love), Tom Wolfe, died last week. It feels like we're passing out of an era. If the law of threes is at play now, I wonder whether another icon of American literature is going to expire.


thrashing around for who #3 might be and all I can come up with is Mr D.
bad thought, no no no.



Well, beloved Northwest children's author Beverly Cleary and WW II novelist Herman Wouk are still around, but they're also both over 100 years old, so...



Nope, no more icons of American literature will expire.


@4, Mr. D?

I want to clarify what I was saying about the effect of a #MeToo shift in our culture on Roth's legacy. As Sean writes: "He was frequently pilloried (and just as often defended) for perceived misogyny in his work, and by extension, himself."

I'm not aware of Roth himself being accused of any sexual impropriety or harassment. Anyone else? That doesn't quite fit the easy narrative that someone like Louis C.K. falls into.


well I was thinking of an American who had won a Nobel prize for literature, and who jumped into my head?
But of course there is another American writer still living with a Nobel to their credit.
How could I have forgotten? How white-centric of me, I'm embarrassed.
Well I hope Toni Morrison stays in good health for a long time to come as well.


I read all the major news outlets on Philip Roth today, and this piece was the best of the entire lot. Very, very nicely done.