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Philip Roth

The Biography

Blake Bailey

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16 June 2021
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The renowned biographer's definitive portrait of a literary titan 'Superlative... definitive and genuinely gripping' SUNDAY TIMES 'Utterly engrossing' EVENING STANDARD 'Compulsively readable... Beautifully written... Definitive' OBSERVER Appointed by Philip Roth and granted complete access and independence, Blake Bailey spent years poring over Roth's personal archive, interviewing his friends, lovers, and colleagues, and engaging Roth himself in breathtakingly candid conversations. The result is an indelible portrait of an American master and of the post-war literary scene.

Bailey shows how Roth emerged from a lower-middle-class Jewish milieu to achieve the heights of literary fame, how his career was nearly derailed by his catastrophic first marriage, and how he championed the work of dissident novelists behind the Iron Curtain. Bailey examines Roth's rivalrous friendships with Saul Bellow, John Updike and William Styron, and reveals the truths of his florid love life, culminating in his almost-twenty-year relationship with actress Claire Bloom, who pilloried Roth in her 1996 memoir, Leaving a Doll's House. Tracing Roth's path from realism to farce to metafiction to the tragic masterpieces of the American Trilogy, Bailey explores Roth's engagement with nearly every aspect of post-war American culture.

By:   Blake Bailey
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 242mm,  Width: 167mm,  Spine: 58mm
Weight:   1.622kg
ISBN:   9780224098175
ISBN 10:   0224098179
Pages:   912
Publication Date:   16 June 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Forthcoming

Blake Bailey is the author of biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, and a finalist for the Pulitzer and James Tait Black prizes. His previous book, The Splendid Things We Planned, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. He lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.

Reviews for Philip Roth: The Biography

Superlative... Bailey's account is definitive and genuinely gripping to boot... He leads us lucidly through a dense palimpsest of overlapping drafts, fictional identities, literary feuds and women. -- Claire Lowdon * Sunday Times * Compulsively readable... Beautifully written... It is hard to imagine a book that will come up with a more definitive series of answers than this one. -- Tim Adams * Observer * Bailey's utterly engrossing biography ... shows Roth led a life just as strange and intense as his fictionalised alter egos. -- Tomiwa Owolade * Evening Standard * It's a miracle that he has published so lucid a book just three years after Roth's death - and one so packed with good anecdotes and jokes... It's an achievement for Bailey to have gained as much distance as he has. -- Blake Morrison * Guardian * Philip Roth, for all his flaws, for all that I know his legacy will continue to be judged in judgmental times and found wanting, deserves this riveting, serious and deeply intelligent biography. -- David Baddiel * Spectator * The 19th-century novel lives on. Its name today is Biography; its nature is that of Dostoyevskian magnitude. And Blake Bailey's comprehensive life of Philip Roth - to tell it outright - is a narrative masterwork.' -- Cynthia Ozick * New York Times Book Review * Unassailable as to fact... clear-eyed... quickly moving... Philip Roth seems as brightly peopled as a Victorian novel. ... What [Bailey] does superbly... is chart Roth's sexual and emotional life, and map its effects on his work. -- Michael Gorra * New York Review of Books * Bailey is a very good writer and a very good literary biographer... What a story... Along with it comes the man in his wholeness. -- James Parker * Atlantic * A monumental gift... Not only does Blake Bailey bring his famously scrupulous research to bear on this life packed with equal parts honour and scandal, he does so with economy and narrative force - all while working in elegant, unforgettable prose... I wept and railed, marvelled and shook my fist at the sky. 'Just make me interesting,' Roth asked of Bailey, and this unputdownable page-turner does just that. -- Mary Karr Everything you ever wanted to know about Philip Roth you can discover in his novels. Everything you ever wanted to know about what it took to become one of the greatest American writers of our time, you will find in Blake Bailey's breathtaking biography. -- Nicole Krauss

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