Acceptance Speech by Philip Roth for the Saul Bellow Award
The backbone of 20th-century American literature has been provided by two novelists—William Faulkner and Saul Bellow. Together they are the Melville, Hawthorne, and Mark Twain of the 20th century. For me as a writer, The Adventures of Augie March, published by Bellow in 1953, remains the most inspiring American novel I have ever read. Nobody has topped Bellow yet at writing a novel about a city-bred American and chances are nobody will. I began reading Saul Bellow while a graduate student living in Augie March’s Chicago in the mid-1950s. I haven’t stopped reading and rereading him since. Where Saul Bellow is concerned, I am forever the graduate student. I am not merely honored to receive this prize bearing his name. As the graduate student, I am flabbergasted and as the writer, I am thrilled. Thank you.