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Philip Roth, one of the most celebrated United States novelists of the second half of the twentieth century, died on Tuesday. Roth's death on Tuesday night was confirmed by Roth's literary agent Andrew Wylie.

In striving for his "best", Roth always edged perfection.

The celebrated and controversial author of "Portnoy's Complaint", "The Counterlife" and other novels was 85. But for Roth the American experience and the Jewish experience were often the same. He long managed to sustain his literary output both in terms of quality as well as quantity, as exemplified by his widely admired political trilogy that included American Pastoral, I Married a Communist (1998) and The Human Stain (2000). Despite expectations to the contrary, he never won the Nobel prize for literature. "Every year we talked about it, it became amusing", Savigneau said, adding that great writers such as Marcel Proust and James Joyce had also missed out on the prize.

Mike has played a key role in the continuing success of the journal "Philip Roth Studies" in recent years by compiling annual bibliographies of scholarship, and has contributed invited reviews to several journals. "I decided that I was done with fiction", he said.

While predecessors such as Saul Bellow and Bernard Malamud wrote of the Jews' painful adjustment from immigrant life, Roth's characters represented the next generation.

"I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing", Roth said.

Roth identified himself as an American writer, not a Jewish one. He was probably taking notes at the time - that's what writers do.


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