Poll: Philip Roth Is Greatest U.S. Writer

Put down your books, all of you out there who have been trying, day after day, week after week, to pin down who the greatest living American novelist is. The answer is here at last. And it’s Philip Roth. That’s according, at least, to a “panel of 30 literati” – the likes of Salman Rushdie, Nell Freudenberger, Gary Shteyngart and, yes, James Franco – who were asked the question by New York magazine’s Vulture site “to assess [Roth’s] oeuvre” ahead of his 80th birthday next month.

Yes, Roth is the greatest living American novelist, said 77% of the illustrious panel. The other 23% – ie the other 6.9 people (does that mean one person was 90% convinced but 10% dismissive?) – thought not, although Don DeLillo was the only other writer mentioned as a possibility, and some respondents declined to nominate anyone.

Is Roth a misogynist? they were later asked. Yes, said 17%. No, said 30%, Umm, said a non-mathematical 52%. What is his greatest subject? Himself, said 43%. Does he deserve to win the Nobel? Yes, said 97%. What is his best book? Sabbath’s Theater got the most votes – 24%.

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