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In light of Philip Roth’s death, we look at the Jewish intellectual tradition and its impact on America




Author Philip Roth poses for a photo in the offices of his publisher Houghton Mifflin, in New York.
Author Philip Roth poses for a photo in the offices of his publisher Houghton Mifflin, in New York.
AP Photo/Richard Drew

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Philip Roth, the prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of "Portnoy's Complaint" to the elegiac lyricism of "American Pastoral," died Tuesday night at age 85.

The author of more than 25 books, Roth identified himself as an American writer, not a Jewish one, but for Roth, the American experience and the Jewish experience were often the same. Still, Roth was part of -- as well as a contributor to -- a vibrant Jewish intellectual tradition that infuses everything from the arts to academia to the larger culture in modern America.

AirTalk explores Roth’s connection to the Jewish American intelligentsia, as well as the movements larger impact on American culture.

With files from the Associated Press.

Guests: 

Talya Zax, deputy culture editor of The Forward, a 121-year-old Jewish publication based in New York; she tweets @TalyaZax

David Lehrer, president of Community Advocates, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles; he was the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League