Pulitzer Prize

The key to adapting Phillip Roth's 'American Pastoral'? Focusing on the father-daughter story

The key to adapting Phillip Roth's 'American Pastoral'? Focusing on the father-daughter story

More than a dozen years ago, when producers first approached me to adapt Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “American Pastoral” for the screen, I was sure I must be the wrong writer. After all, I had read it when it first came out, at a time when I was already a professional screenwriter — and yet it hadn’t occurred to me while reading it that this powerful but terribly complex novel could be a movie.

It was true that, back before I fell in with bad company and moved to Los Angeles to write for “Hill Street Blues,” I’d been a book reviewer for the New York Times and taught literature at Columbia, where I’d hold forth on how...

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