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From The CriticsQuestions of time, place and politics in the art of fiction provoke these intense conversations between Roth and a handful of his esteemed friends. It's not mechanics or craft that intrigue the author. One of our best novelists (American Pastoral, Portnoy's Complaint), he cares less about plot and style than ideas—and here, whether talking with Primo Levi about Auschwitz, Edna O'Brien about Ireland or Milan Kundera about the significance of Central Europe in the twentieth century, he wants to know not how these authors write but why. Filled with quotable observations (Kundera: "When Don Quixote went out into the world, that world turned into a mystery before his eyes." The novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question"), these interviews focus on serious fiction written during periods of historical change (the Holocaust, the end of Marxism). Throughout this slim but provocative volume, Roth himself is consistently engaging, whether he's meditating on the work of two interesting Czech writers, Aaron Appelfeld and Ivan Klima, or reminiscing about his mentors, Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow.