In April 2010, The New Yorker magazine reported on a fake interview with Philip Roth, supposedly conducted by Italian freelance journalist Tommaso Debenedetti. In what promises to be an equally perplexing exercise in fiction-making, Angry Bear, a blog devoted to business and economics, posted a story about the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, and in their blog mentioned a brand new novel by Roth. Supposedly, Becoming Who We Are (Houghton Mifflin, 432 pages, $27) is another alternate history where Roth revisits the tragedies of 9/11. According to the blog:
So now, ten years later, we find some American authors writing alternative histories about that time. The most recent, and one of the most absurd, is Philip Roth’s Becoming Who We Are, in which the Bush Administration assists the Bin Laden family in flying out of the United States (even before domestic commercial flights resume), becomes even closer to the Saudi leadership (there is a scene in the novel of Bush holding hands with the Saudi King while posing for photographs), and declares war on Iraq.
Even more problematic, Roth imagines Giuliani being touted as a hero, while the Bush Administration tortures prisoners, committing what most readers will correctly view as war crimes.
Perhaps saddest of all, Roth postulates an uprising of “Christian Conservatives” who vociferously and repeatedly applaud both of the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and wanton torture of prisoners—and who, in this novel, are largely credited with re-electing President Bush despite those revelations and an economy driven to stagnation by war—cheering the mere suggestion that an execution, even of someone who is clearly innocent, will occur.
The Philip Roth Society has tried to reach those at Angry Bear for more information–if nothing else, to point out how this information is misguided at best, and fabricated at worst–but so far there has been no response.
As one might expect, other blogs have picked up on this story and have carried it as truth without any verification. Business Insider, Millsy US, and Equity Jungle have all run and/or hyperlinked the story. Even more curious is the fact that many readers have responded to the Angry Bear blog posting, most not even questioning the reality of Roth’s “new book” and merely going with the flow.
The Roth Society still awaits a response from those at Angry Bear. Perhaps the only way we will get any actual verification of the new novel is to contact the intrepid journalist, Tommaso Debenedetti. Either him, or Moishe Pipik.