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.
“A riveting collection of conversations and interviews”
“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