Sean Thor Conroe at the Paris Review: I’m not even necessarily the biggest Roth guy. When I got asked to cover “Philip Roth Unbound,” a festival to celebrate and “agitate” his legacy, I hadn’t read but a handful of his books. But, looking over the press release, I was drawn to how intense the schedule was set up to be: three full days of panels, live readings, and comedy shows, all in his hometown of Newark. Roth compared novel-writing to the tedium of baseball, and there was something athletic about how these events were stacked up, one after another, jam-packed with renowned writers and themes encompassing the breadth of Roth’s vision. I’d view this like a marathon, one that I’d need to read the rest of his books to prepare for. I’d read maybe six. He wrote thirty-one. We were a month out. Plenty of time, I decided.
Having read Roth’s debut, as well as Portnoy’s Complaint and the Zuckerman novels through Counterlife, I figured I’d pick up where I left off. I was most drawn to the stretch of novels he wrote in the nineties, when, at fifty, after the death of his father and the failure of his marriage, he self-exiled and “became a monk of fiction,” as David Remnick put it in a 2018 profile.more here.