Roth makes me want to shout "shut up!" says prize judge

29/06/2011 by Katie Allen

The judge of a literary prize has admitted that the novels of winner Philip Roth often make him want to shout "shut up!” and "chuck a pail of water" over his head.

Roth was last night awarded the £60,000 Man Booker International Prize for his career in writing. The 78-year-old creator of characters including Nathan Zuckerman and Coleman Silk was not able to attend, with author and academic Hermione Lee taking the gong in his place.

Chair of judges Rick Gekoski [pictured] said, "I can recall few of his novels that don't provoke an occasional but overwhelming desire to shout, 'Will you shut up!' at a character or his author", the Telegraph reveals.

He added that Roth's novels, which include American Pastoral and The Human Stain, compel readers to "put the book down, pace about, sit down [and] chuck a pail of water over our heads".

But he added, "In revisiting him over these last months, I’ve been struck by how various his work is, how styles and topics and themes appear, work themselves out, and morph into something quite different." While Lee described him as "the great literary adventurer, performer, and self-transformer of this and the last century".

The prize has already run into controversy twice this year, after John le Carré asked for his name to be removed from the shortlist, and judge Carmen Callil retired from the panel in protest at Roth’s win. At the time she told the Guardian "I don't rate [Roth] as a writer at all. I made it clear that I wouldn't have put him on the longlist, so I was amazed when he stayed there. He was the only one I didn't admire—all the others were fine."
 

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