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. He twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He 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." Roth received PEN's two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. 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. He died in 2018.
Roth, a Pulitzer Prize winner who has also twice won National Book Critics Circle and National Book awards for his fiction, here presents conversations with and essays on contemporary writers (plus the artist Philip Guston). The interviews with Ivan Kl!ma and Milan Kundera give fascinating insight into the difficult history and political struggles of the former Czechoslovakia. The writers also discuss the dangers of the West's commercial and entertainment cultures, V clav Havel's place in political action, and the nature of totalitarianism. Roth's discussions on Isaac Bashevis Singer and Bruno Schulz illuminate the cultural history of Poland in the Thirties, while his essays on Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow examine their art, religious heritage, and literary importance. Interviews with Primo Levi and Aharon Appelfeld give insight into different writers' attempts to come to grips with the destruction of the European Jews. Finally, an interview with Edna O'Brien focuses on the importance of place in the life of a writer. Especially interesting is the insight into Roth's own literary concerns of narration, authenticity, and politics. Recommended for all literature collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/01.] Gene Shaw, NYPL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Roth continues to be feverishly productive after American Pastoral vaulted him back onto the novelists' A-list in the late '90s, and last year's The Human Stain kept hiim there. This book is a grab bag of conversations and exchanges of letters with other writers, and essays, which originally appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Among his correspondents are Primo Levi and novelists Aharon Appelfeld, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Edna O'Brien and Milan Kundera. In none of these conversations does the reader get a clear picture of both parties, since Roth's overlong questions and self-referential statements rarely turn the spotlight away from himself, and most of the chatter is about writers' status and career, rather than artistry or real "shop talk." Czech novelist Ivan Klima is coarsely described as resembling "a highly intellectually evolved Ringo Starr." There is an abstruse and cryptic pair of letters exchanged with Mary McCarthy, and a merciless memoir of novelist Bernard Malamud, who when dying read aloud the beginning of a new novel written with immense difficulty, only to have Roth pick holes in the work: "Trying to be constructive, I suggested that the narrative opened too slowly and that he might better begin further along.... " Collections and individual readers would do better to buy copies of the novels from decades ago that established this writer's fame than look here for unplumbed depths. (Sept.) Forecast: This book should get mileage out of the names of Roth and his high-profile interlocutors, but even browsers will pick up on its miscellaneous quality, and most of the pieces will be familiar to readers of smart set periodicals. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"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