Rotten Reviews: Philip Roth

Portnoy’s Complaint (1971)

This looks and sounds like a Jewish novel. It isn’t. Or, if it is, it is not a good one, a true one…it is finally a definitive something or other. I regret that it is not a definitive something.


The best that can be said of Roth’s accomplishment is that Mama Portnoy is a caricature drawn by a master cartoonist, but she’s not more than that…the main trouble with the Jewish family theme is that it has been overwritten.

The Nation

Our Gang (1971)

Nixon’s rough treatment at Roth’s hands may very well invite more sympathy for him than anything since the Checkers speech.

Saturday Review

The Great American Novel (1973)

Roth has, unfortunately, got into such a shouting match with his readers that some of us are going to have to start shouting back.


My Life as a Man (1974)

…a totally solipsistic novel, which may well make it a perfect expression of the times.


Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

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