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  • Published: 1 October 2002
  • ISBN: 9780099428435
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176
  • RRP: $19.99

Shop Talk




A brilliant collection of conversations and essays about writers and writing.

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 individualised 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 analyses the mix of politics and sexuality that made him a subversive write 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.

  • Published: 1 October 2002
  • ISBN: 9780099428435
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Philip Roth

Philip Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey on 19 March 1933. The second child of second-generation Americans, Bess and Herman Roth, Roth grew up in the largely Jewish community of Weequahic, a neighbourhood he was to return to time and again in his writing. After graduating from Weequahic High School in 1950, he attended Bucknell University, Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago, where he received a scholarship to complete his M.A. in English Literature.

In 1959, Roth published Goodbye, Columbus – a collection of stories, and a novella – for which he received the National Book Award. Ten years later, the publication of his fourth novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, brought Roth both critical and commercial success, firmly securing his reputation as one of America’s finest young writers. Roth was the author of thirty-one books, including those that were to follow the fortunes of Nathan Zuckerman, and a fictional narrator named Philip Roth, through which he explored and gave voice to the complexities of the American experience in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.

Roth’s lasting contribution to literature was widely recognised throughout his lifetime, both in the US and abroad. Among other commendations he was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the International Man Booker Prize, twice the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award, and presented with the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal by Presidents Clinton and Obama, respectively.

Philip Roth died on 22 May 2018 at the age of eighty-five having retired from writing six years previously.

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Praise for Shop Talk

A riveting collection of conversations and interviews

Sunday Times

The questions are serious, respectful and intelligent, and the interviewees respond in kind

Times Literary Supplement

Roth brings out something adamantine and irreducible about each of his interlocutors... Rings with what his readers will recognise as Rothian intelligence

New York Times

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

New York Times Book Review

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

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