One of his recurring protagonists, Nathan Zuckerman, is a novelist whose own writings have similarly upset many Jews.
Philip Roth, whose raucous, playful, elegant and often outrageous novels about Jewish life and sex and death and betrayal made him one of the country's greatest novelists, has died at age 85. His death was confirmed by his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, who said Roth died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure in a New York City hospital.
Roth was regarded as a fierce satirist and uncompromising realist, confronting readers in a bold, direct style that scorned false sentiment or hopes for heavenly reward. Roth was frequently identified as being a writer interested in Jewish identity, as well as lust, the American Dream and male anxiety.
'I decided that I was done with fiction, ' he said at the time.
Roth, who was now living in Manhattan and CT at the time of his death, was arguably the most significant New Jersey-born novelist of the 20th Century and many of his works are considered American classics.
1997's American Pastoral won Roth his Pulitzer, and was adapted in 2016 to the big screen by Ewan McGregor, who played a father whose daughter becomes a terrorist in the 1960s. The son of an insurance salesman, Roth earned a bachelor's degree at Buckle University and a master's degree in English from the University of Chicago. His more recent books included 2001's "The Dying Animal" and 'The Human Stain, ' published in 2000 and released in 2003 as a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman.
Writing on "behaviour in extreme situations" was Roth's forte, tackling characters with "sheer playfulness and deadly seriousness", recording "life, in all its shameless impurity".
Roth's first book, Goodbye, Columbus is a collection of short stories set in various parts of New Jersey, including the titular novella.
Roth became the first novelist to win three PEN/Faulkner awards after the publication of Everyman in 2006, and in 2011 he won the Man Booker International Prize after the publication of his 2010 novel Nemesis. Nine of his novels featured his fictional alter-ego, Nathan Zuckerman (The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman Unbound, Exit Ghost), exploring nearly every facet of his identity, from being Jewish to being a writer and a man.
"There was nothing more for me to write about", he told the BBC in 2014.
Roth was married twice - to Margaret Martinson from 1959 to 1963, and to his long-time partner Claire Bloom from 1990 to 1994. "I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life". A year later, she published a bruising memoir, 'Leaving a Doll's House, ' in which she portrayed him as depressed, remote, self-centered and verbally abusive.