WNET will present AMERICAN MASTERS “Philip Roth: Unmasked” Friday, March 29 at 9 p.m. on WNET and other PBS stations (check local listings) in honor of Roth’s 80th birthday.
The program will explore the life of Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning novelist Philip Roth (b. 3/19/1933), often referred to as the greatest living American writer.
In candid interviews, Roth freely discusses very intimate aspects of his life and art, as he has never done before: his distinctly unliterary upbringing in Newark, New Jersey, his writing process, his first marriage, the inspiration behind his most famous novels, and many controversies.
Interviews include some of Roth’s oldest friends, including Mia Farrow, who inspired part of his last novel Nemesis (2010), and younger American writers influenced by Roth: Jonathan Franzen, Nicole Krauss and Nathan Englander.
With 31 books to his credit, including Goodbye, Columbus; Portnoy’s Complaint; Sabbath’s Theater; American Pastoral; and The Human Stain, Roth has won every possible literary award, short of the Nobel Prize, commanding ownership of the Jewish-American novel.
Practically inventing the genre of factual-fictional autobiography, Roth’s thinly veiled Zuckerman books follow the protagonist’s path from aspiring young writer to compromised celebrity, and, finally, older man facing death. The program is 90 minutes.