In an interview for a documentary in 2014 — two years after he had announced his retirement from writing and four years before his death — Philip Roth declared: “In the coming years I have two great calamities to face. Death and a biography. Let’s hope the first comes first.”

And so it has come to pass, though perhaps not quite in the way Roth might have wished for, and in spite of his careful attempts to ensure involvement in the telling of his life story...

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