Philip Roth, one of America’s most powerful and celebrated novelists, was born in Newark, New Jersey on this date in 1933. Roth’s twenty-seven novels range from out-and-out political satire (Our Gang, about Richard Nixon being picketed by the Boy Scouts of America) to surrealism (The Breast, about a professor who becomes a giant breast) to imaginary history (The Plot Against America, about the election of Charles Lindbergh to the Presidency) to profound meditations on Jewish identity and male sexuality (The Professor of Desire and Portnoy’s Complaint, to name just two). His two non-fictions include Patrimony, a profound telling of his father’s death. Roth was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Award, and many other prizes. A close reading of his work reveals a deep capacity to convey the humanity of both men and women, old and young. His sentences are gorgeous, his humor uproarious, and his portrayals of sexual desire and its upheavals are unmatched. Roth died in 2018.

“Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.” —Philip Roth, The Dying Animal