Roth's body of work won him plenty of accolades.
In the 1970s, Roth experimented with political satire, and eventually created his alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, who appeared in Roth's novels and novellas starting in 1979.
Simon wrote on Twitter: "Kaddish for Philip Roth, the great American novelist of our postwar world". Roth was born only a short Path train away, in Newark, New Jersey. His parents were first-generation Americans from Galicia, Poland.
Roth's work first appeared in print in Chicago Review in 1954 when he was studying, and later teaching, at the University of Chicago.
His more recent books included The Dying Animal in 2001 and The Human Stain in 2000, which was released as a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman.
Roth first found success with his short story collection, Goodbye Columbus, published in 1959.
He was denounced for the unflattering portraits of some of the Jewish characters and accused of being a "self-hating Jew".
The celebrated and controversial author of Portnoy's Complaint, The Counterlife and other novels was 85.
It was amusing, explicit and for the time shockingly frank.
It was critically acclaimed and became his signature work, although it was banned in countries such as Australia.
Though Roth himself objected to being labelled a Jewish writer - "If I am anything, I am an American writer", he protested - the Jewish experience was central to many of his later books.
"A darling man and our greatest living writer". While there may be some commonality between Roth and Zuckerman, Roth has insisted that his novels are not autobiographical.
Screenwriter Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) tweeted, "We all wanted to be Philip Roth".
Several of his novels dealt with politics.
Ten years later Roth published "Portnoy's Complaint".
Roth was married twice - to Margaret Martinson from 1959 to 1963, and to his long-time partner Claire Bloom from 1990 to 1994. (Although, alas, she still loved him). 'Sabbath's Theater, ' " Berlinerblau said.
His defenders argue that these apparently objectionable attributes are those of his fictional characters rather than of the author himself.
Roth, whose 31 novels over a 50-year span include Goodbye, Columbus, Portnoy's Complaint and American Pastoral, was known for his writings about male and Jewish identity and sexuality with a sometimes darkly humorous twist.
He knew when to quit as a writer, too. "I can guarantee you that this is my last appearance ever on television. absolutely [my] last appearance on any stage anywhere", BBC quoted him as having said. He told The Nation that readers who only see his life in his works "are simply numb to fiction-numb to impersonation, to ventriloquism, to irony, numb to the thousand observations of human life on which a book is built", according to Biography.com.