W.W. Norton Drops Roth Biography, Gets Only Mixed Reviews from Crisis Pros 

This month’s Crisis Averted shows how a terrific campaign for a lucrative product can go awry quickly. The story touches on a bevy of things: crisis readiness, immediate and more measured reaction to crisis, #MeToo, cancel culture, media, social media, tremendous irony and a large cast of characters.

We begin in March 2021, when excitement is growing for a long-awaited biography of Philip Roth, one of the most acclaimed American novelists of the 20th century. The book, “Philip Roth: The Biography,” was set for an early April 2021 debut.

Hopefully this 880-page biography would offer fans a look inside the somewhat reclusive novelist’s head.

How many of the racy exploits in “Portnoy’s Complaint,” “Letting Go” or “Goodbye, Columbus” did Roth embody? Was the novelist as misogynistic in life as some of his fictional characters?

Ever the writer, Roth controlled the project. In 2012, Roth revealed he’d chosen Blake Bailey, winner of the 2009 National Book Critics Circle award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a book about John Cheever, to write the biography.


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