On the occasion of a new posthumous novel, Roth’s last editor reflects on a complicated legacy.
Special To The Jewish Week
Having worked intensely with the reclusive Henry Roth for the last four years of his life, sculpting thousands of manuscript pages into his four-volume “Mercy of a Rude Stream” series, and now having overseen the editing of his final, posthumous novel, “An American Type,” I have unwittingly become something of an Roth authority.
In ‘An American Type,’ Henry Roth suggests that there is a heavy price to be paid for America’s freedom, and for Jewishness itself.
The wisest way to approach a posthumous novel is with low expectations. Given that, you wouldn’t be wrong to afford some grace to Henry Roth’s new posthumous novel, “An American Type” (Norton), cobbled together from 1,900 disordered manuscript pages that were left untouched for nearly a decade after he died. And yet the book hardly needs it.