A happily retired Philip Roth is spending his days swimming, watching baseball and nature-spotting, revelling in the fact that “there’s more to life than writing and publishing fiction”, according to a new interview.
Reiterating his bleak view about the future of literature – that “two decades on the size of the audience for the literary novel will be about the size of the group who read Latin poetry” – the 80-year-old Roth told Stanford scholar Cynthia Haven that his disengagement from the world of writing is still very much in evidence. Asked by Haven if he really believes his talent – which has won him the Man Booker International prize and made him a perennial contender for the Nobel – will “let [him] quit” writing, Roth responded: “You better believe me, because I haven’t written a word of fiction since 2009.”
“I have no desire to write fiction,” said the Pulitzer prize-winning literary giant. “I did what I did and it’s done. There’s more to life than writing and publishing fiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date.”
Instead: “I swim, I follow baseball, look at the scenery, watch a few movies, listen to music, eat well and see friends. In the country I am keen on nature.”
He is also studying 19-century American history. “My mind is full of then,” he said. “Barely time left for a continuing preoccupation with aging, writing, sex and death. By the end of the day I am too fatigued.”