1. Philip Roth
Get out your hankies, friends: the most important writer in New York City has just retired. The beloved elder statesman of literary fiction won the National Book Award for his very first book, Goodbye, Columbus in 1959, and ten years later set the book world spinning with the raunchy, hilarious classic Portnoy’s Complaint. Roth’s works are highly lauded, both for their literary merit and their iconic investigations of Jewish, American, and Jewish-American identity. The author has been showered with almost every award — the Pulitzer, two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle Awards — except, famously and tragically, the Nobel. In 2002, he was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, in 2007 he was bestowed with the first ever PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and in 2011, he was awarded the biennial Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement.