Photo: Francoise Chaptal/AFP/Getty Images
West-Berliner citizens climbs on the Berlin wall on November 10, 1989 to ask for the fall of the Berlin wall.Photo: Francoise Chaptal/AFP/Getty Images
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On Hearing of the Death of Philip Roth

A lifelong friendship between two of the world’s greatest writers comes to an end

by
The Editors
May 23, 2018
Photo: Francoise Chaptal/AFP/Getty Images
West-Berliner citizens climbs on the Berlin wall on November 10, 1989 to ask for the fall of the Berlin wall.Photo: Francoise Chaptal/AFP/Getty Images

Tablet reached the home of Milan Kundera, the great Czech novelist and friend of Philip Roth, in Paris. Kundera wasn’t feeling well.

After a formative visit to Eastern Europe in 1972, Roth came to champion a group of writers, including Kundera, who became known as “Writers from the Other Europe,” the name of the series of novels Roth shepherded into print in America through the 1980s. Through these publications, English-language audiences were introduced to the work of Kundera, Bruno Schulz, Tadeusz Borowski, Daniol Kiš, Joseph Brodsky, Bohumil Hrabal, and György Konrád, among other writers working under the tyranny of Soviet occupation.

Above all, Kundera and Roth’s was a friendship between two great novelists, one of whom understood love and the other who understood anxiety, and both of whom were extremely funny on the page.

Vera Kundera, Milan’s wife, had one comment she wanted everyone to hear: “Those cretins in Stockholm never gave him his prize,” she said, adding, “those cretins.”

***

Philip Roth died last night at age 85.

From the editors of Tablet Magazine.

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