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 individualized art is informed by the wider conditions of life.
Milan Kundera and Czechoslovakia, Primo Levi and Auschwitz, Edna O’Brien and Ireland, Aharon Appelfeld and Bukovina, Ivan Klíma and Prague, Isaac Singer and Warsaw, Bruno Schulz and Poland — what is the intricate transaction between the susceptible writer and the provocative time and place? Roth’s questions go to the original conditions that stimulate the narrative impulse, and he puts them to writers who are as attuned to the subtleties of literature as to the influence of the surrounding society.
Also included here are appreciative portraits of two of Roth’s late friends, each transfixed till the end by his artistic vocation — the writer Bernard Malamud and the painter Philip Guston — as well as several cartoons drawn by Guston, a gift to Roth to illustrate his novella THE BREAST and printed here for the first time. SHOP TALK concludes with Roth’s essay “Rereading Saul Bellow,” a vivid presentation of Bellow’s achievement and, in the spirit of this collection, very much a colleague’s reading.
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About the Author
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, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. 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" and the W.H. Smith Award for the Best Book of the Year, making Roth the first writer in the forty-six-year history of the prize to win it twice.
In 2005 Roth became the third living American writer to have his works published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize. In 2012 he won Spain’s highest honor, the Prince of Asturias Award, and in 2013 he received France’s highest honor, Commander of the Legion of Honor.
Date of Birth:March 19, 1933
Place of Birth:Newark, New Jersey
Education:B.A. in English, Bucknell University, 1954; M.A. in English, University of Chicago, 1955