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.
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 analyzes the mix of politics and sexuality that made him the most subversive writer 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, presided over by America’s foremost novelist.
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.
“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.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[Roth] brings out something adamantine and irreducible about each of his interlocutors.... Ring[s] with what his readers will recognize as...Rothian intelligence.” —The New York Times
“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