|Philip Roth told Les Inrocks that he had dedicated his life to the novel, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Photograph: Eric Thayer /Reuters|
Philip Roth: 'To tell you the truth, I'm done'
American novelist announced his retirement in October in little-noticed interview with French magazine
Friday 9 November 2012 20.57 GMT
Philip Roth, the US novelist widely regarded as America's best hope of ending a 20 year drought without a winner of the Nobel prize for literature, has said that he is calling it a day.
The writer announced his retirement in a little-noticed interview with a French magazine and said that Nemesis, which was published in 2010, would be his last book.
"To tell you the truth, I'm done," Roth told Les Inrocks last month, adding that he had not written anything for the past three years.
Having reached the age of 79, he realised that he was running out of years and had chosen to reread his favourite novels, as well as his own books.
"I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing," he said, according to a translation from the French by Salon.
"And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: 'I did the best I could with what I had.' This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had."
Roth said that he had dedicated his life to the novel, to the exclusion of almost everything else.
"Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life," he said.
The son of a Jewish-American family from Newark, New Jersey, Roth made his literary debut in 1959 with Goodbye, Columbus, but it was his 1969 novel, Portnoy's Complaint, that brought him international attention due to its graphic depiction of sexuality.
Roth has recently turned his attentions towards trying to persuade Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopaedia, to let him adjust an inaccurate description of his novel, The Human Stain.
He wrote an open letter to Wikipedia in September after it refused to accept him as a credible source for the inspiration behind the book.
However, during the summer his literary track record was recognised when he won Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias prize.
The work of Roth, already the recipient of the Man Booker international prize, the Pulitzer and the National Book award, was described by the Asturias judges as forming "part of the great American novel, in the tradition of Dos Passos, Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Bellow and Malamud".
The jury said Roth's "characters, events and plots form a complex view of contemporary reality torn between reason and feeling, such as the sign of the times and the sense of unease about the present", and praised his "literary quality, [which] is displayed in his fluid, incisive writing".
• This article was amended on 9 November 2012. The original put Roth's age at 74, not 79. This has been corrected