As one of the most acclaimed authors in recent history, Philip Roth’s place in the literary hierarchy is truly assured. Writing since the late 1950s, Roth has created some of the best Jewish-American literature of all time. The number of awards he has received reflects his ability to create complex characters, strong social commentary and on occasion provocative political satire in his books. Roth is simply unrivalled within his genre.
Even with such a highly regarded back catalogue of work, however, the jury is still out as to Roth’s collectability. As ever it his earliest works that demand greatest attention with his debut novel, Goodbye Columbus, from 1959 averaging around $1,000 for a first edition. On occasion this may reach higher but few of his other novels reach these prices, with a first edition of his second novel, Letting Go, being available to buyers for several hundred dollars.
The publication of Portnoy’s Complaint in 1969 increased Roth’s profile significantly and a first edition would still be similarly priced to Letting Go at around $300 to $600. Looking later still his more experimental period came in the 1970s and, The Breast, can easily be found for under $250. Producing work well into this century means that there is still the opportunity for a collector to find and purchase a “future classic” for little more than a few dollars.
As Roth nears the end of his career, the collector now has a decision to make on which way to go with his work. His later works are still eminently affordable and if he is to go down as a great American author his books can only become more collectable.
Roth, Philip. Goodbye, Columbus. Andre Deutsch, London (1959). First published 1959 by Andre Deutsh Limited' on the copyright page, and no later edition stated; First British edition;
Roth, Philip. Goodbye, Columbus. Houghton Mifflin, New York (1959). First printing stated; first issue DJ with $3.75 price
Roth, Philip. Letting Go. Random House, New York (1962). $5.95 price on DJ flap with date code of '6/62';
Roth, Philip. When She Was Good. Random House, New York (1967). $5.95 price on top DJ flap.
Roth, Philip. Portnoy's Complaint. Random House, New York (1969). 600 copies; DJ inside price $6.95
Roth, Philip. The Breast. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York (1972). 60 copies; first edition stated on copyright page; original published price of $4.95 on upper inner flap and 0972 on lower inner flap
Roth, Philip. My Life as a Man. Jonathan Cape, London (1974). First UK Edition;
Roth, Philip. Reading Myself and Others. Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York (1975). original price ($8.95); First Printing stated
Roth, Philip. The Professor of Desire. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York (1977). $8.95 price on DJ flap
Roth, Philip. The Prague Orgy. Jonathan Cape, London (1985). first British edition;
Roth, Philip. Patrimony. Simon and Schuster, New York (1991). $19.95 price on DJ flap
Roth, Philip. Operation Shylock. Simon and Schuster, New York (1993). Winner of the 1994 PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction
Roth, Philip. American Pastoral. Franklin Library. Franklin Center (1997). Frontispiece by Nelson M. Carlin; Franklin Library edition is the true first edition, 1,350 copies
Roth, Philip. I Married a Communist. Franklin, Franklin Center (1998). Frontispiece by Kim Barnes
Roth, Philip. The Human Stain. Houghton Mifflin, New York (2000). $26.00 price on DJ flap; complete number line