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Dublin: -2°C Thursday 15 April 2021

For all Philip Roth knows, LeBron James is some sort of hat

Approached by friend and sportswriter Scott Raab to supply a blurb for his LeBron James exposé “The Whore of Akron,” America’s foremost novelist had a strange admission to make.

What is this 'LeBron' of which you speak?
What is this 'LeBron' of which you speak?
Image: MANU FERNANDEZ/AP/Press Association Images; RICHARD DREW/AP/Press Association Images

AS A TWO-time winner of the National Book Award and a recipient of both the Booker International Prize and the PEN Award for Achievement in American Fiction, Philip Roth can stake a claim to being the most celebrated living chronicler of the American experience.

When it came to soliciting blurbs for his controversial account of LeBron James’s departure from Cleveland, then, sportswriter Scott Raab told Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast that he knew exactly whom to petition.

Letter sent, it wasn’t long before a missive from the reclusive novelist arrived in his mailbox.

“Dear Scott,

You’re asking the wrong man to say something about your book. I was curiously incompetent at basketball as a boy, I have never followed basketball as an adult, and I know nothing about the teams or their players. I remember that Bill Bradley played for Princeton while I was teaching there, but otherwise, as far as I know, LeBron James is a hat worn by men in the 1920s.

Sorry to let you down, but you’ll do alright without me.”

Roth, it appears, resides in an idyllic corner of the world that– not unlike one of those clichéd safe havens that motivate heroes in post-apocalyptic movies– remains completely untouched by coverage of The Decision.

You get the feeling that Raab would probably have struck it lucky with Updike, but alas, that ship has sailed.

Listen to the interview here>

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