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Award-winning novelist Philip Roth dies at 85

By Ray Downs
Award-winning novelist Philip Roth dies at 85
President Barack Obama presents the 2010 National Medal of Humanities Medal to author Philip Roth in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 2, 2011. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

May 23 (UPI) -- Philip Roth, one of the most heralded American novelists of the 20th century, died Tuesday at the age of 85.

Roth's friend, Judith Thurman, told CNN he died of congestive heart failure in a New York City hospital.

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"I'm in a state of shock. I'm stunned and speechless. He was a truth teller," Thurman said.

Roth, whose 31 novels over a 50-year span include Goodbye, Columbus, Portnoy's Complaint and American Pastoral, was known for his writings about male and Jewish identity and sexuality with a sometimes darkly humorous twist.

"Updike and Bellow hold their flashlights out into the world, reveal the world as it is now," Roth once said, according to The New York Times. "I dig a hole and shine my flashlight into the hole."

Roth's body of work won him plenty of accolades.

In addition to a Pulitzer Prize and a Man Booker International Prize, Roth won two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle Awards and three PEN/Faulkner Awards.

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