American Masters Philip Roth: Unmasked

Updated Thu, Mar 21, 2013 10:05 am

Watch Philip Roth: Unmasked on PBS. See more from American Masters.

Friday, March 29, 9 p.m.

Often referred to as the greatest living American writer, Philip Roth's 31st novel -- and 4th film made from one of his novels -- will appear in 2012/13. "Goodbye Columbus," the collection of short stories published in 1959, put the 26-year old Roth on the map and "Portnoy's Complaint," 10 years later, propelled him into a scandalous spotlight. Yet he steadily earned the reputation as a man of letters, commanding ownership of the Jewish-American novel and making Newark, NJ a literary destination. He practically invented the genre of factual/fictional autobiography -- his thinly-veiled "Zuckerman Trilogy" follows the protagonist's path from aspiring young writer to compromised celebrity. His career was considered dead by 1990 -- and then exploded with a dozen best sellers in the past two decades. This film bears out Roth's promise to the director: "we'll speak of everything: women, rabbis, politicians, psycho-analysis, literary critics and me."