Portnoy's Complaint at 50 featuring Brett Ashley Kaplan, Warren Hoffman, Josh Lambert & Jeremy Shere and produced by the Association for Jewish Studies
50 years ago, Philip Roth's wildly controversial and hugely successful novel Portnoy's Complaint was published. A bestseller, the novel – written as the confession of a patient to his psychoanalyst – tells the story of Alexander Portnoy, a thirty-something American Jew. Portnoy is struggling to break free from his overbearing Jewish mother and the crushing guilt and anxiety that threaten to overwhelm him as he does everything he can to stake out his sexual freedom (including, as a boy, masturbating into a piece of liver that his mother later cooks and serves for dinner). This episode tells the story of Portnoy's Complaint – how and why Roth wrote it, the controversy and harsh criticism it generated among the Jewish establishment, and how literary critics have read and analyzed the novel in the decades since its publication.