Philip Roth Emerges From Retirement to Rip ‘Megalomaniac’ Trump: ‘Massive Fraud’

The 84-year-old novelist also discusses culture of toxic masculinity in wide-ranging New York Times interview

Last Updated: January 16, 2018 @ 7:57 AM

Novelist Philip Roth has emerged from his retirement to slam President Donald Trump a “massive fraud” and “megalomaniac.”

In a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times in which he wrote out his answers, the author of “Portnoy’s Complaint” and “The Human Stain” slammed Trump as a “massive fraud, the evil sum of his deficiencies, devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac.”

Roth addressed comparisons to Trump and “The Plot Against America,” his 2004 novel that presents an alternative history in which the famed pilot and fascist sympathizer Charles Lindbergh defeated Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election.

Although Lindbergh was a “genuine racist and an anti-Semite and a white supremacist sympathetic to Fascism,” Roth wrote, at least he was also “an authentic American hero” who became the first person to fly a trans-Atlantic solo flight.

Roth also addresses the toxic masculinity that’s come under scrutiny in recent months with the #MeToo movement. Given his experience writing about male sexual desire and its repercussions, the 84-year-old wrote, “none of the more extreme conduct I have been reading about in the newspapers lately has astonished me.”

“I haven’t shunned the hard facts in these fictions of why and how and when tumescent men do what they do, even when these have not been in harmony with the portrayal that a masculine public-relations campaign — if there were such a thing — might prefer,” Roth said.

The author of “American Pastoral,” “I Married a Communist” and “Portnoy’s Complaint,” Roth also described writing as “Exhilaration and groaning. Frustration and freedom. Inspiration and uncertainty. Abundance and emptiness. Blazing forth and muddling through.”

Read the full interview here.