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Newark Native Philip Roth Turns 80

By Monica Miller, WBGO News
Newark. March 18, 2013

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Fans and friends are paying tribute to one of Newark’s most famous living residents, Philip Roth. WBGO remembers the award-winning novelist on his 80th birthday and how  Roth remembers the city of his childhood.

William Faulkner had Oxford, Mississippi. Philip Roth has Newark, New Jersey.  Fans, scholars and friends are celebrating his life and work with a guided tour of the places depicted in his books, a photo exhibit at the Newark Public Library and a birthday party that Roth is scheduled to attend.

Roth said while his books are based on fiction in a 2009 interview with WBGO, he says the depictions of Newark are fairly accurate.

“Place is very important to me both as a person and especially as a writer.”

Especially the influence his alma mater Weequahic High School had on him.

“I had seven close friends in high school. They all became doctors. They all thought I was going to fail. I mean, I’m not as rich as they are because they’re doctors, but I tried.”

Roth is a product of the Newark Public School system and grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood in the city’s South Ward. He went on to win almost every major literary prize including the National Book Award and Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement in fiction.

Click on the link Roth@80 for more information on the Newark celebrations. You can hear WBGO's stories Philip Roth's Newark and Writing Without Charles about the late Charlies Cummings, Newark's former historian and Roth's friend. We also have a web extra, Views of Philip Roth's Newark to see what places dipicted in his books look like today.

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