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The controlling voice

A new book about Philip Roth shows that his achievement has been to wring so many great novels from his limited gifts

By Sam Tanenhaus   November 2013

Pierpont’s book on Philip Roth (above) “isn’t a biography. And it isn’t criticism. It’s a 330-page New Yorker profile.” © Orjan F. Ellingvag

Roth Unbound: A Writer and his Books by Claudia Roth Pierpont (FSG, £17)

Some years ago—it was in the spring or summer of 2000—I happened to be in Philip Roth’s company when the conversation turned to the question of literary biography. James Atlas’s giant life of Saul Bellow was soon to be published, and it was well known that Bellow, after a period of gingerly cooperating with…

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