Philip Roth Wins Man Booker International Prize


New Jersey’s finest lust-ridden, humorous, hang-wringingly anxious (read: Jewish) novelist, Philip Milton Roth, won the Man Booker International Prize today. The verdict was announced in Sydney, Australia, during the Writers’ Festival. Roth will receive £60,000 and an obscene amount of praise for his work, although one judge was so strongly against the decision she quit. In a previous interview, Carmen Callil said, “He goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It’s as though he’s sitting on your face and you can’t breathe.” Despite her protestations, Roth will officially accept the prize in London next month.

The twelve other finalists were:

Juan Goytisolo (Spain) James Kelman (UK) John le Carré (UK) Amin Maalouf (Lebanon) David Malouf (Australia) Dacia Maraini (Italy) Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada) Philip Pullman (UK) Marilynne Robinson (USA) Su Tong (China) Anne Tyler (USA) Wang Anyi (China)

Roth’s magnum opus was published back in 1969, and this is what Josh Greenfield at the New York Times had to say about it: “With Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth (Goodbye Columbus, Letting Go, When She Was Good) has finally come up with the existentially quintessential form for any American-Jewish tale bearing — or baring — guilt. He has done so by simply but brilliantly casting his American Jewish hero — so obviously long in need of therapy- – upon a psychoanalyst’s couch (the current American-Jewish equivalent of the confessional box) and allowed him to rant and rave and rend himself there. The result is not only one of those bullseye hits in the ever-darkening field of humor, a novel that is playfully and painfully moving, but also a work that is certainly catholic in appeal, potentially monumental in effect — and, perhaps more important, a deliciously funny book, absurd and exuberant, wild and uproarious.”

Roth reads his acceptance here, via YouTube: