Philip Roth is the voice of our times.In a sequence of intimate conversations with some of the most influential and insightful writers of the twentieth century, Roth explores the importance of region, politics and history in their work and that of their predecessors.What qualities helped Primo Levi survive the demented laboratory of Auschwitz? What does Milan Kundera make of being denounced as a subversive writer in communist Czechoslovakia? What does Edna O'Brien think drove generations of Irish writers into exile?Between colleagues and friends there is a startling candour seldom found in formal interviews, a sense that the guard is dropped, the ideas unbounded, as the conversations crackle with an urgency of ideas. Shop Talk is a literary symposium of the highest calibre, profoundly revelatory and consistently enlightening.
What qualities helped Primo Levi survive the demented laboratory of Auschwitz? What does Milan Kundera make of being denounced as a subversive writer in communist Czechoslovakia? What does Edna O'Brien think drove generations of Irish writers into exile? This book explores the importance of region, politics and history in their work.
Riveting * Sunday Times *Roth brings out something adamantine and irreducible about each of his interlocutors... Rings with what his readers will recognise as Rothian intelligence * New York Times *The questions are serious, respectful and intelligent, and the interviewees respond in kind * Times Literary Supplement *Roth manages to tease from his subjects the convictions that fuel their work and the vulnerabilities that make them human... Yet another example of [his] clarity of purpose and singular intelligence * New York Times Book Review *Fascinating glimpses of some of the deans of postwar literature [and] a working diagram of the very engine that makes Roth run * Los Angeles Times Book Review *
A brilliant collection of conversations and essays about writers and writing.
Philip Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey on 19 March 1933. The second child of second-generation Americans, Bess and Herman Roth, Roth grew up in the largely Jewish community of Weequahic, a neighbourhood he was to return to time and again in his writing. After graduating from Weequahic High School in 1950, he attended Bucknell University, Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago, where he received a scholarship to complete his M.A. in English Literature.In 1959, Roth published Goodbye, Columbus - a collection of stories, and a novella - for which he received the National Book Award. Ten years later, the publication of his fourth novel, Portnoy's Complaint, brought Roth both critical and commercial success, firmly securing his reputation as one of America's finest young writers. Roth was the author of thirty-one books, including those that were to follow the fortunes of Nathan Zuckerman, and a fictional narrator named Philip Roth, through which he explored and gave voice to the complexities of the American experience in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Roth's lasting contribution to literature was widely recognised throughout his lifetime, both in the US and abroad. Among other commendations he was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the International Man Booker Prize, twice the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award, and presented with the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal by Presidents Clinton and Obama, respectively.Philip Roth died on 22 May 2018 at the age of eighty-five having retired from writing six years previously.