Philip Roth

Philip Milton Roth was an American novelist and short story writer. He gained fame with his 1959 novella 'Goodbye, Columbus' and achieved further success with his 1969 novel 'Portnoy's Complaint'. Roth's work often explores themes of identity, self-examination, and the complexities of American life.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. Portnoy's Complaint

    The novel is a first-person narrative, a monologue by a young Jewish man, Alexander Portnoy, who is speaking to his psychoanalyst. He shares his struggles with his identity as a Jewish man in America, his sexual fantasies and frustrations, his complex relationship with his overbearing mother, and his experiences of guilt and shame. The book uses humor and frank language to explore themes of identity, sexuality, and the Jewish experience in America.

    The 151st Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. American Pastoral

    This novel tells the story of Seymour "Swede" Levov, a successful Jewish-American businessman and former high school athlete from Newark, New Jersey. Levov's happy and conventional upper middle class life is ruined by the domestic social and political turmoil of the 1960s during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, which in the novel is seen through the eyes of the narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, a budding writer who idolizes the Levovs. The novel portrays the impact of this turmoil on Levov and his family, particularly his rebellious daughter who becomes involved in revolutionary political activities.

    The 246th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Human Stain

    The Human Stain is a novel that explores the life of Coleman Silk, a classics professor in a small New England town who is forced to retire after accusations of racism. The story delves into Silk's personal history, revealing that he is a light-skinned African American who has been passing as a Jewish man for most of his adult life. His affair with a much younger, illiterate janitor further scandalizes the community. The novel examines themes of identity, race, and the destructive power of public shaming.

    The 733rd Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Plot Against America

    This novel presents an alternate history where aviator-hero and rabid isolationist Charles Lindbergh is elected President in 1940, leading the United States towards fascism and anti-Semitism. The story is narrated through the perspective of a working-class Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey, experiencing the political shift and its terrifying consequences. The narrative explores themes of prejudice, fear, patriotism, and family bonds under the shadow of a fascist regime.

    The 1068th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Sabbath's Theater

    "Sabbath's Theater" is a darkly humorous and sexually explicit novel about the life of a retired puppeteer, Mickey Sabbath. After the death of his long-time mistress, Sabbath embarks on a journey of self-exploration and reflection, contemplating his past relationships, his career, and his own mortality. The novel is a profound exploration of the human condition, the nature of desire, and the struggle to find meaning in a chaotic and often absurd world.

    The 1254th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Goodbye, Columbus

    This novel explores the story of Neil Klugman and Brenda Patimkin, two young Jewish people from different social classes, who embark on a summer romance in 1950s New Jersey. The novel delves into their relationship dynamics, contrasting their backgrounds and dealing with themes of social class, materialism, and the American Dream. The book also includes five short stories, each exploring different aspects of post-war American Jewish life.

    The 1782nd Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Anatomy Lesson

    The book centers on a once-successful writer who, plagued by chronic pain and unable to continue his literary work, experiences a profound identity crisis. As he grapples with his physical agony and the disintegration of his personal life, he embarks on a desperate quest for a cure and a new sense of purpose. This leads him to consider a drastic career change, which takes him on a darkly comic journey through the medical community and his own tortured psyche. The narrative delves into themes of mortality, the meaning of suffering, and the search for redemption in the face of overwhelming despair.

    The 2320th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Operation Shylock

    In this intriguing novel, the protagonist, a famous writer, travels to Israel to cover the trial of a former Nazi war criminal. While there, he encounters a man who is his doppelgänger and who has been using his fame to promote a controversial political agenda, including the idea that Jews should abandon Israel and return to Europe. The narrative explores themes of identity, Jewish history, and the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all while blurring the line between fiction and reality.

    The 2372nd Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Counterlife

    This novel explores the idea of alternate realities through the story of two brothers, one a successful dentist and the other a famous writer. The narrative is divided into five parts, each presenting a different version of their lives. As the story progresses, the characters grapple with issues of identity, mortality, and the complex relationship between art and life. The novel is a profound examination of the choices we make and the different paths our lives could take as a result.

    The 2758th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Breast

    The book is a surreal and darkly comic novella that explores the bizarre transformation of a college professor who inexplicably turns into a giant breast. This metamorphosis leads him to confront a range of human experiences and emotions, including sexuality, identity, and the absurdity of existence. As he grapples with his new form, the protagonist reflects on his past life and relationships, while also dealing with the practical and philosophical implications of his current condition. The narrative delves into themes of alienation and the human condition, all while maintaining a satirical tone that challenges the reader's sense of normalcy and the boundaries of the self.

    The 2942nd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. The Ghost Writer

    "The Ghost Writer" explores the life of Nathan Zuckerman, a young and ambitious writer who spends a night at the secluded New England home of his literary idol, E.I. Lonoff. Throughout his stay, Nathan grapples with his own aspirations, his Jewish identity, and his familial obligations, while becoming intrigued by Amy Bellette, a mysterious young woman who may have a profound connection to Lonoff. The novel delves into themes of artistic integrity, the burdens of literary influence, and the complex relationships between personal life and literary creativity.

    The 3352nd Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Patrimony

    The book is a poignant non-fiction account that delves into the complex relationship between a son and his aging father, who is grappling with a fatal brain tumor. As the father's health deteriorates, the son is confronted with the impending loss and the weight of familial duty, love, and the shared history that binds them. The narrative is a deeply personal exploration of identity, memory, and mortality, offering a raw and honest look at the challenges of caregiving and the process of saying goodbye to a loved one. Through this journey, the son gains a deeper understanding of his father's life and legacy, as well as his own place in the continuum of their family's story.

    The 4545th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Everyman

    "Everyman" is a profound exploration of the common human experience as it recounts the life of its unnamed protagonist. The book explores themes of mortality, regret, and the human condition through the lens of an everyman character. The protagonist's journey through life, with all its joys, sorrows, achievements, and failures, is a contemplation on aging, death, and the inevitable decline of the body. The narrative is a stark and unflinching examination of the human experience, offering a poignant meditation on the nature of life, death, and humanity.

    The 5055th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Zuckerman Bound

    The book is a compilation of works that follow the life of a fictional novelist, Nathan Zuckerman, as he navigates the complexities of success, identity, and creativity in the literary world. Set against the backdrop of the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, the protagonist grapples with the consequences of his own controversial writing, which draws heavily from his personal experiences and Jewish heritage. As he deals with the fallout from family, critics, and admirers, the narrative delves into themes of artistic integrity, personal freedom, and the burdens of fame, offering a satirical and introspective look at the inner workings of the literary establishment and the challenges of being a public intellectual.

    The 5072nd Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Nemesis

    Set in Newark, New Jersey, during a polio outbreak in the 1940s, the book follows a dedicated playground director, Bucky Cantor, who remains on duty while many others flee the city. Despite his efforts to keep the children safe, polio begins to affect those around him. As fear and panic spread through the community, Bucky also becomes infected and loses his eyesight. The story is a profound exploration of personal responsibility, duty, and the random, tragic nature of life.

    The 6277th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. My Life As A Man

    The novel explores the tumultuous life of a young writer grappling with the complexities of his identity and the challenges of his personal relationships, particularly with the women in his life. Through a blend of fiction and autobiographical elements, the protagonist navigates the trials of marriage, infidelity, and the pursuit of artistic expression. The narrative delves into themes of masculinity, self-deception, and the struggle for self-understanding, as the protagonist's literary alter egos reveal the inner conflicts and contradictions that define his existence.

    The 7168th Greatest Book of All Time