November 4, 2019
Phillip Roth left a substantial part of his estate to the Newark Public Library
by Athena Bryan
In heartwarming bit of library news, famed, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Phillip Roth has left $2 million of his $10 million estate to the Newark Public Library, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Roth had already pledged his personal book collection, whose volumes apparently contain substantial annotations from the author, to the same library before his death.
At the time of that donation, he stated that he had chosen the Newark Public Library because of “a longstanding sense of gratitude to the city where I was born” and referred to the library as his “other Newark home.” This additional gift doesn’t bear any new explanation, but we can assume it was motivated by the same touching devotion to his roots. It also earmarks some funding specifically to house his 7,000-book collection.
New Jersey is the butt of many casual jokes from New Yorkers. Maybe to some degree, the pervasive disdain towards the neighboring state is informed by the caustic treatments of New Jersey by its own natives, like Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus, for example. But our point is, it’s nice to see a sense of allegiance and gratitude towards the Garden State. After all, it has produced a critical mass of luminaries—including William Carlos Williams, Edmund Wilson, Merryl Streep, and Paul Simon.
Nice to see that, in the end, Roth was betting on more.
Athena Bryan is an editor at Melville House.