The legendary author’s essays and interviews explore how fellow writers from Milan Kundera to Edna O’Brien are influenced by time, place, and politics.
Writers are often deeply influenced by the time and place in which they live and write. In Shop Talk, Philip Roth, winner of a National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize, and numerous other literary honors, explores the intimate relationship a writer’s experience has with his or her work.
In a series of essays, Roth recounts his intellectual encounters with writers, discussing with them the diverse regions from which they hail and pondering the influence of locale, politics, and history on their work. Featuring luminaries such as Milan Kundera discussing Czechoslovakia; Primo Levi talking about Auschwitz; Edna O’Brien reflecting on Ireland; Isaac Bashevis Singer tackling Warsaw; Aharon Appelfeld on Bukovina; and Ivan Klíma on Prague, Roth’s conversations touch on the conditions that inspire great art, with artists as attuned to the subtleties of their societies as they are the nuances of words.
Also including a portrait of Bernard Malamud, a written exchange with Mary McCarthy about Roth’s The Counterlife, and the essay “Rereading Saul Bellow,” Shop Talk is a “fascinating [glimpse] of some of the deans of postwar literature” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral in 1997. 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. 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 Roth won Spain’s highest honor, the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, and in 2013 he received France’s highest honor, Commander of the Legion of Honor.