Award-winning author and satirist Philip Roth has died at 85, leaving behind an incredible body of work that’s uncompromising style will continue to challenge readers.
One particularly provocative novel, The Plot Against America, will soon get a new lease of life as a television show, the writer and producer of The Wire, David Simon, adapting the novel into a six-part mini-series.
The news was initially announced earlier this year, in a New York Times interview with Roth during which the author spoke about the novel and its unnerving parallels with the real world.
The Plot Against America was published in 2004 and features an alternative history where Charles Lindbergh wins the 1940 presidential election. Following the event, anti-Semitism becomes mainstream American policy, and the country agrees to not interfere with Nazi Germany’s expansion into Europe.
When the novel was released, many critics saw the novel as a critique of the George W. Bush administration, but are now seeing more parallels with Donald Trump’s. During the interview with the New York Times, Roth spoke candidly about the comparison.
“[There’s] a difference in stature between a President Lindbergh and a President Trump. Charles Lindbergh, in life as in my novel, may have been a genuine racist and an anti-Semite and a white supremacist sympathetic to Fascism, but he was also — because of the extraordinary feat of his solo trans-Atlantic flight at the age of 25 — an authentic American hero 13 years before I have him winning the presidency.
“Lindbergh, historically, was the courageous young pilot who in 1927, for the first time, flew nonstop across the Atlantic, from Long Island to Paris. He did it in 33.5 hours in a single-seat, single-engine monoplane, thus making him a kind of 20th-century Leif Ericson, an aeronautical Magellan, one of the earliest beacons of the age of aviation. Trump, by comparison, is a massive fraud, the evil sum of his deficiencies, devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac.”
The profile also noted that Roth “was sure his novel was in good hands” with Simon. The showrunner has since paid tribute to Roth, writing on Twitter: “Improbably, I had the honor of meeting Philip Roth just a few months ago to discuss an adaptation of Plot Against America.
“At 85, he was more precise and insightful, more intellectually adept and downright witty than most any person of any age. What a marvelous, rigorous mind.”
The adaptation has not yet received a release date or network. Roth’s works have been adapted to the screen many times, including the recent Logan Lerman-starring film Indignation.
The author’s literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said Roth died in a New York City hospital of congestive heart failure. He authored over 25 books and was a fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of Portnoy’s Complaint to the elegiac lyricism of American Pastoral.