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Philip Roth
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American Novelists > The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography. Philip Roth

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message 1: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Philip Roth is to be awarded The Man Booker International Prize on June 28, 2011, in London.


message 2: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments Asmah wrote: "Philip Roth is to be awarded The Man Booker International Prize on June 28, 2011, in London."

and he won't be attending!
I just read an interesting article about him that might be a nice "follow-up" to his autobiography that is scheduled as a group read in July. :D


message 3: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Marieke, great idea.

Yeah, I read that he asked for his name to be pulled from the prize list. They refused. So they will honor him without his there or wishing to be so honored.


message 4: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Marieke wrote: ..."I just read an interesting article about him that might be a nice "follow-up" to his autobiography that is scheduled as a group read in July. :D ..."

I read the article, wondering whether The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography points to some of the personal and author traits of Roth mentioned by Jan Dalley? The answer comes from first reading his autobiography then following-up with Dalley's article, Marieke!


message 5: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments I just got notified that my copy of the book is ready for me to pick up. I was relieved to see a July 4 start date here at the group because i challenged myself not to start any books this week. :D

i'm really looking forward to this, though--it's short AND i think Roth is a very compelling figure. plus, i'm curious about the things you pointed out Asmah. it will be fun to compare the book with the article.

Oddly, i have yet to read any of his novels.


message 6: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Anne wrote: "Marieke, great idea.

Yeah, I read that he asked for his name to be pulled from the prize list. They refused. So they will honor him without his there or wishing to be so honored."


Really, I did not know that, Anne. He is said to be reclusive, but must be very humble as well!!


message 7: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) I don't think it's about humility. I think it has to do with his attitude about awards.


message 8: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Anne wrote: "I don't think it's about humility. I think it has to do with his attitude about awards."

His autobiography might provide clues, though written in 1988. The article by Jan Dalley hints that his fiction can also be autobiographical as in place or in persons known. I like your idea about his "attitude about rewards", too :)


message 9: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Asmah,
It isn't my idea really, I just have a vague memory of what he said about why he didn't want to be considered for the prize.


message 10: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Anne wrote: "...I just have a vague memory of what he said about why he didn't want to be considered for the prize."

OK, Anne, thks for letting me know that about Roth.


message 11: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments Actually, i think it was John Le Carre who asked to be removed, not Philip Roth. Roth seems happy to get the prize. But there was certainly a lot of controversy around Roth winning.


message 12: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Marieke wrote: "Actually, i think it was John Le Carre who asked to be removed, not Philip Roth. Roth seems happy to get the prize. But there was certainly a lot of controversy around Roth winning."

Some of the controversy is mentioned in Jan Dalley's article above and some more in an article by AFP (Agence France-Presse), which is among a group of related articles about the controversy at http://www.hotheadlines.com.au/redire... John LeCarré removed his name from the short list; Philip Roth would attend the ceremony in Sydney except for his back. Roth is not going as far as LeCarré even were he ambivalent about literary prizes in general. Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.-- http://en.thinkexist.com/


message 13: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments this very interesting article about the mess that Man Booker has created, suggests Roth might have been "less cool" if he were receiving the Nobel.

i'm planning to read The Facts on Saturday. i think it's great fun that a discussion has already been generated here! Anne, are you planning to read it? i know you also have a lot on your reading plate... :D


message 14: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Marieke wrote: "this very interesting article about the mess that Man Booker has created, suggests Roth might have been "less cool" if he were receiving the Nobel.

i'm planning to read The Facts on Saturday. i th..."


"very interesting article", indeed, Marieke. It's not Roth's modest appraisal of his award-winning writing but his modest appraisal of the Booker Prize. Robert McCrum's remark is refreshingly ironic. thks.


message 15: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Marieke, my book just arrived yesterday, so yes, I am planning to read it. Roland is demanding a lot of my emotional and physical energy right now, but I really want to participate in this discussion. So, I plan to do my best to get the book read.


message 16: by Asma Fedosia (last edited Jun 30, 2011 07:33AM) (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Saturday works for me, too. Might someone else be able to read "The Facts" this weekend? So far, Marieke and Anne are reading it .


message 17: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) I read the article. What does that mean that the Booker is superior to the Nobel? Superior in what way? The nerve and audacity of the Man group? No one explained why Roth would have accepted a Nobel over the Man/Booker, so I guess this line at the end of the article is a jab at the guy who thinks the Booker is more important. Geez, what a bunch of self-important idiots.


message 18: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) I will start the book today and get as far as possible by Saturday. But does that mean you want to start the discussion on Sunday?


message 19: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Anne wrote: "I read the article. What does that mean that the Booker is superior to the Nobel? Superior in what way? ..."

Some points for comparison:
*Literary knowledge of the judges.
*Size of the award.
*The shortlist of nominees.
*The regard from the media and the book buyers, ie the effect on future book sales. (Oprah)


message 20: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Anne wrote: "I will start the book today and get as far as possible by Saturday. But does that mean you want to start the discussion on Sunday?"

Marieke mentioned that a discussion has already been generated here. It began June 27 with the "interesting article". My suggestion is that readers can begin posting now, avoiding the spoilers until Saturday, when everything about the book can be forthrightly discussed!


message 21: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) If a prize is only worth what it can produce in future sales I don't think it is superior. Especially for well-known authors. Size of the award - I don't know the difference between the two. Literary knowledge of the judges - whose to say which is a better panel of judges? I've been very disappointed in the Man/Booker ever since Man got involved.
Those are my first thoughts.


message 22: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Thks for your thoughts, Anne. May I ask which MB/MBI prize books disappointed you and, perhaps, other readers?

Who is the Man Group:
http://www.themanbookerprize.com/priz...

Transcript and four You-Tube interviews/appearances with Philip Roth re: his MBI prize
http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news...


message 23: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments i'm a little bit lost when i comes to prizes, so this is a surprisingly enlightening discussion we've got developing!


message 24: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Marieke wrote: "i'm a little bit lost when i comes to prizes, so this is a surprisingly enlightening discussion we've got developing!"

To think this moving discussion all began with your two interesting articles and Anne's feedback about her experience with the MB/MBI prize. What a lucky coincidence that Roth's autobiography came around in the schedule just when he was going to receive the award.


message 25: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments so it was coincidence?

i'm quite excited to read his biography...he is so familiar even though i've never read any of his novels (although i'd like to).

Anne, your last line of message 17 made me laugh. :D


message 26: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Asmah wrote: "Thks for your thoughts, Anne. May I ask which MB/MBI prize books disappointed you and, perhaps, other readers?

I would have to look up all the winners. Maybe later, but don't have time right now.



message 27: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) One thing I will add is that it became a joke between myself and a friend of mine when we were in a bookstore picking out books - if it was won a Man-Booker it wouldn't be very good or readable. If it hadn't one, it could be alright.


message 28: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Marieke wrote: "Anne, your last line of message 17 made me laugh. :D"

I'm glad to hear that. After I wrote it I thought maybe I should have been a bit more diplomatic in my language.


message 29: by Asma Fedosia (last edited Jun 30, 2011 12:53PM) (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Anne wrote: "...when we were in a bookstore picking out books - if it was won a Man-Booker..."

The Man Book International Prize is similar to the Nobel in Literature to the extent that the award is given for a lifetime of achievement rather than for a particular book. A person would have to read several works by Roth, as well as several by the other nominees, to decide whether s/he agrees with the judges.


message 30: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Yes, that's true. One writer that won a Man-Booker (I think) is Penelope Lively. I tried to read two of her books and couldn't get into them. Maybe I made bad choices. I think one of the books was the most current at the time she won the prize and it got a lot of press.


message 31: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) P.S. As for Roth, I have to disagree with myself. I have read at least 5 or 6 or more of his books. I liked them all except one The Plot Against America. I think Roth really knows how to write. Plus, he writes about things that I understand - Jewish neurosis, for one.


message 32: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments You have read widely in Roth. Good for you, Anne. I can see why you want to read his autobiography, too...and, would like to know what you think of it.


message 33: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) I haven't read nearly enough of his books. He has written 20. But, yes, I am interested in his autobiography.


message 34: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments Anne wrote: "I haven't read nearly enough of his books. He has written 20. But, yes, I am interested in his autobiography."

have you read a selection of early, middle, and late novels of his? i've wanted to read some of his work for a long time and have never managed to. that's interesting you didn't like Plot Against America...that's one i have and thought i would read (eventually).


message 35: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Marieke wrote: "that's interesting you didn't like Plot Against America...that's one i have and thought i would read (eventually). "

I actually read it twice. Didn't like it any better the second time. But a lot of people like it. Someone on GR wrote that PAA was her favorite or Roth's or the only one she did like. I suppose it depends on what different people appreciate in Roth.

I just checked my shelves. I have actually read 8 of his books. The Facts will make it 9. I haven't checked which period they are all from, but I think most of them are from his middle period. Not sure how they are divided. I have several of his later novels on my TBR shelf. I never read Goodbye, Columbus . That is one of his earlier works.


message 36: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments i started this morning--just a couple of chapters so far. i have to go visit family for the day now so i probably won't finish until tomorrow. but so far i'm enjoying it. i don't know how the writing style compares to his novels, but if it compares favorably, i think i would like his novels very much. i'm wondering, though, who is Zuckerman?


message 37: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Nathan Zuckerman is Roth's alter-ego; a character and narrator of several of his novels.


message 38: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments Anne wrote: "Nathan Zuckerman is Roth's alter-ego; a character and narrator of several of his novels."

a-ha. that is what i suspected, but i wasn't sure.


message 39: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Smart girl.


message 40: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Marieke wrote: "i started this morning--just a couple of chapters so far. i have to go visit family for the day now so i probably won't finish until tomorrow. but so far i'm enjoying it. i don't know how the writi..."

I also started today, reaching the end of 'Joe College'; there's still time to read more today. The dedication to Zuckerman intrigued me, leading me to check up on the trilogy and epilogue Zuckerman Bound : The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman Unbound, the Anatomy Lesson, Epilogue : The Prague Orgy. Some of the cities in 'Safe at Home' were familiar, and his fondness for baseball and his ethnicity's traditional disapproval of divorce amazed me. In 'Joe College', also, he follows his own mind and instincts, further asserts his independence from the status quo, and makes his successes look as easy and expected as daisies popping up in a field.


message 41: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Anne wrote: "Nathan Zuckerman is Roth's alter-ego; a character and narrator of several of his novels."

Besides Zuckerman; other characters like Philip Roth and David Kepesh are alter-egos, too, since he is autobiographical. What do you think?


message 42: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Asmah wrote: "Besides Zuckerman; other characters like Philip Roth and David Kepesh are alter-egos, too, since he is autobiographical. What do you think?"

I'm not sure what you mean by your question. I have some thoughts on this book as an autobiography, but I'll wait until the two of you finish.


message 43: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments Anne wrote: "I have some thoughts on this book as an autobiography, but I'll wait until the two of you finish. ..."

Great idea, Anne. I ought to be finished with it tomorrow.


message 44: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments i'm about half-way through, now...just want to say--what a mess with josie!


message 45: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) Yeah. What a mess. Not sure where you are so I won't comment...yet.


message 46: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments Anne wrote: "Yeah. What a mess. Not sure where you are so I won't comment...yet."

They are in NY and Roth is contemplating asking his brother for help with his dilemma. i'm about to return to the couch to continue this saga...


message 47: by Asma Fedosia (new)

Asma Fedosia | 562 comments The part about Josie is pretty raw, making me feel sorry for his predicament.


message 48: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments i finished! i thought the letters between himself and Zuckerman were clever. i especially liked Zuckerman's post-script.


message 49: by Anne (new)

Anne (reachannereach) I also liked the post-script the best as well, especially the end where the two characters are bemoaning their situation and worrying about what Roth will come up with next for them. I loved that. That is Roth at his most clever. They like Roth are caught in a similar situation - a boring a safe life (or no life) vs. upheaval.

I thought the bio part was okay but was thinking the whole time where is the "auto" part, especially when it came to his relationship with Josie. He is known to have been in analysis. So he has Zuckerman say all the criticism I had and more. It's very clever but it's still not very autobiographical.


message 50: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 59 comments i wonder if he wrote it before he was really ready. or maybe it was just a means for him to finally exorcise Josie from his life so that he could move on. i wonder, too, if he'll write a second autobiography. i actually really liked that he used Zuckerman to pick at his shortcomings...i can't decide if it was more or less courageous...do i criticize myself or do i left someone else do it? in the end, he opted for both.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Facts (other topics)
The Plot Against America (other topics)
Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories (other topics)
Zuckerman Bound: The Ghost Writer / Zuckerman Unbound / The Anatomy Lesson / The Prague Orgy (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Philip Roth (other topics)
Jan Dalley (other topics)
Robert McCrum (other topics)