Pulitzer award-winning author Philip Roth’s iconic and sensational novel about sex, psychoanalysis and growing up
Portnoy's Complaint n. [after Alexander Portnoy (1933-)]:
A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature.
Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2019
, Portnoy’s Complaint, arguably Philip Roth’s best-known novel, tells the tale of young Jewish lawyer Alexander Portnoy and his scandalous sexual confessions to his psychiatrist. As narrated by Portnoy, he takes the reader on a journey through his childhood to adolescence to present day while articulating his sexual desire, frustration and neurosis in shockingly candid ways. Hysterically funny and daringly intimate,
Portnoy’s Complaint was an immediate bestseller upon its publication and elevated Roth to an international literary celebrity.
‘The most outrageously funny book about sex written…Portnoy's Complaint is still a masterclass in how to get beneath the skin of sexuality. Has any other novel managed it quite so well?’ Guardian
"The most scandalous book of the year and probably the decade." John Sutherland The Times
Philip Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey on 19 March 1933. The second child of second-generation Americans, Bess and Herman Roth, Roth grew up in the largely Jewish community of Weequahic, a neighbourhood he was to return to time and again in his writing. After graduating from Weequahic High School in 1950, he attended Bucknell University, Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago, where he received a scholarship to complete his M.A. in English Literature.
In 1959, Roth published
Goodbye, Columbus – a collection of stories, and a novella – for which he received the National Book Award. Ten years later, the publication of his fourth novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, brought Roth both critical and commercial success, firmly securing his reputation as one of America’s finest young writers. Roth was the author of thirty-one books, including those that were to follow the fortunes of Nathan Zuckerman, and a fictional narrator named Philip Roth, through which he explored and gave voice to the complexities of the American experience in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.
Roth’s lasting contribution to literature was widely recognised throughout his lifetime, both in the US and abroad. Among other commendations he was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the International Man Booker Prize, twice the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award, and presented with the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal by Presidents Clinton and Obama, respectively.
Philip Roth died on 22 May 2018 at the age of eighty-five having retired from writing six years previously.