Philip Roth to Donate His Book Collection to the Newark Public Library

Posted on October 27, 2016

Design for Newark Public Library from Henry Myerberg

The New York Times reports that Philip Roth is donating his book collection to the Newark Public Library. Roth's collection contains 4,000 books which he currently stores at his home in Connecticut. Mr. Roth told the Times that the books have taken over his home. He has an entire room full of nonfiction books. The room is outfitted with library shelves and special library lighting. He has all the books he consulted when he wrote each of his novels. The research books are grouped by the novel for which they were used. The groupings provide a fascinating look into his writing process.

He noted that he does not have a librarian to keep track of it all, hence the bequest to his beloved Newark Public Library. He explained that he is 83 and has no heirs, noting that if he had children he probably would have left his books to them. He described the collection saying, "It's not a huge library, but it’s special to me, and I wanted it preserved as it was, if only for historical interest: What was an American writer reading in the second half of the 20th century."

The library is thrilled with the bequest and is already raising money to build a special room for the collection which will be designed by the the architect Henry Myerberg. The trustees believe the acquisition will make the library a magnet for Roth scholars and fans. The bequest will be formally announced tonight at the first annual Philip Roth Lecture at the library. Author Zadie Smith will speak.

Image: Henry Myerberg