Philip Roth Wins Literary Prize; Judge Quits

May 18, 2011

American novelist Philip Roth is the winner of the 2011 Man Booker International Prize. The chairman of the judges, Rick Gekoski, says Roth's work "stimulated, provoked and amused an enormous, and still expanding, audience", according to Reuters. In a video statement, Roth thanks the judges, and hopes the prize will draw more readers to his work.

But one member of the three-judge panel wasn't happy with his win.

The Guardian reports that author and publisher Carmen Callil quit the three judge panel rather than support Roth's win, saying "he goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It's as though he's sitting on your face and you can't breathe."

Callil doesn't stop there: "I don't rate him as a writer at all....He was the only one I didn't admire - all the others were fine...Emperor's clothes: in 20 years' time will anyone read him?" She plans to publish a review Saturday further explaining her views.

Roth has won several prizes for his novels exploring Jewish and American identity; they include two National Book Awards and a Pulitzer in 1998 for American Pastoral. He says he's honored to receive the prize, given every two years and highlighting a writer's body of work, rather than a single book. Past winners include Chinua Achebe and Alice Munro.

Fresh Air's Terry Gross spoke to Roth last year about his latest novel, Nemesis, about a 1944 polio outbreak in Newark, N.J. The Telegraph lists its top Roth reads, including his first, Goodbye Columbus, the notorious Portnoy's Complaint and the 'outrageously perverse' Sabbath's Theater. It lists American Pastoral as 'probably Roth's greatest book'. The Philip Roth Society has much more. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit