Roth Wins the Bellow

I have waited my entire blogging career to write a headline like that. Philip Roth has won the inaugural award named for his friend, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. (They’re giving him $40,000, too, even though he’s not a poet.) The AP offered some quotes from the love-in (“Philip Roth wins 1st ever Bellow prize,” by Hillel Italie):

“Bellow’s `The Adventures of Augie March’ is the most important book published in English in the second half of the 20th century,” Roth said.

“I make this claim not only because of my admiration for its astonishing literary properties but because it has had the widest influence of any book from that period on any number of excellent novelists, not only in America but throughout the English-speaking world. How could I be anything but thrilled to receive an award bearing Saul Bellow’s name?”

Making things even more cozy, Janis Bellow was one of this year’s judges:

Bellow’s widow, Janis Bellow, was one of this year’s judges and said in a statement issued by PEN: “My husband would have been greatly pleased to learn that Philip Roth is the recipient of the first Saul Bellow Award. I am, of course, delighted that PEN has seen fit to honor my husband by establishing this prize.”

Hey, didn’t Roth just win the PEN/Faulkner, too? I’ve got an idea for a new award: the PEN/Roth, which could in its inaugural year be given to…Philip Roth!

(I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve the accolades–I’m just saying.)

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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