In Philip Roth's intimate intellectual encounters with an international and diverse cast of writers, they explore the importance of region, politics, and history in their work and trace the imaginative path by which a writer's highly individualised art is informed by the wider conditions of life.
With Primo Levi, Roth discusses the stubborn core of rationality that helped the Italian chemist-writer survive the demented laboratory of Auschwitz. With Milan Kundera, he analyses the mix of politics and sexuality that made him a subversive write in communist Czechoslovakia. With Edna O'Brien, he explores the circumstances that have forced generations of Irish writers into exile. Elsewhere Roth offers appreciative portraits of two friends - the writer Bernard Malamud and the painter Philip Guston - at the end of their careers, and gives us a masterful assessment of the work of Saul Bellow. Intimate, charming and crackling with ideas about the interplay between imagination and the writer's historical situation, Shop Talk is a literary symposium of the highest level.
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A riveting collection of conversations and interviews - Sunday Times
The questions are serious, respectful and intelligent, and the interviewees respond in kind - Times Literary Supplement
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
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
In 1997, Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians' Prize for 'the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004.'
Recently Roth received PEN's two most prestigious prizes: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award 'for a body of work...of enduring originality and consummate craftmanship' and in 2007 the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for achievement in American Fiction, given to a writer whose 'scale of achievement over a sustained career...places him or her in the highest rank of American literature.'
Roth is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. The last of the eight volumes is scheduled for publication in 2013.