Philip Roth, 85, died Tuesday night in a New York hospital of congestive heart failure. The NYT calls him “the prolific, protean, and often blackly comic novelist who was a pre-eminent figure in 20th-century literature…. Mr. Roth was the last of the great white males: the triumvirate of writers — Saul Bellow and John Updike were the others — who towered over American letters in the second half of the 20th century. Outliving both and borne aloft by an extraordinary second wind, Mr. Roth wrote more novels than either of them.”
Hillel Italie at the AP refers to Roth as a “fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of Portnoy’s Complaint to the elegiac lyricism of American Pastoral.” Saying “he was among the greatest writers never to win the Nobel Prize,” Italie calls Roth “a fierce satirist and uncompromising realist, confronting readers in a bold, direct style that scorned false sentiment or hopes for heavenly reward.”
Roth’s longtime hardcover publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt issued a statement from svp, publisher Bruce Nichols: “America has lost its greatest living writer. We join with the entire community of arts and letters in grief, and in awe at Philip Roth’s astonishing accomplishments–from the very beginning with Goodbye, Columbus, to the very end, with Nemesis. We will be forever proud to have been there at the start, and to have published him for the past three decades. Long after the controversies have quieted, the greatness shines. May he rest in peace, and may we continue to read and admire him forever.” A memorial is planned for the fall, with details to be determined at a later date.
In personnel news, at Simon & Schuster, Stephen Bedford has been promoted to marketing director and Nicole Hines has been promoted to marketing associate.
Annabel Merullo will step down from the position of head of books at PFD after 10 years to focus on client representation as a senior agent. Tim Bates will take over from Merullo next month, and Rebecca Wearmouth has been promoted to rights agent.
Also in the UK, Doug Young will leave his position as publishing director at Transworld at the end of May, after more than 17 years with the company. Transworld said it is “due to a restructure of the company’s non-fiction team,” the Bookseller reports.
Alexis Sattler will join Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency as a literary agent on May 29. Previously she was an assistant editor at Putnam.