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'Deception' and 'Operation Shylock'


Zuckerman’s return
Philip Roth Writer
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I thought I was through with Zuckerman until, lo and behold, in the mid-1980s I... I wrote a book called The Counterlife, and here… Zuckerman's intelligence… Zuckerman's intelligence was what I needed in that book and he's not the main actor of the book, he was the main actor of the previous books but he's not the main actor in The Counterlife, but numerous others are – his brother, his family, his wife to be, in London, her family, and the book… in this book I... I left America and the book is planted in London and in Gloucestershire, and in Jerusalem and the West Bank of Israel. And it allowed me to expand my... my vision and make place… make place important, this really wasn't true in the previous Zuckerman books, so one, the focus is not entirely on him, but two, his intelligence is contemplating the material, and three, it takes place in new worlds for me. And it made me expansive, it produced – if I remember correctly – it produced a different kind of prose that I had been writing earlier and I felt that I had enlarged my view, really.

At this point I was living… in 1985 I was living in London half the time. I had begun living in London in 1977 about, so… and I would stay there six to seven months a year and come back here for the spring, the summer and the fall. And so I'd come to know something about London, very little I admit, but enough to fool people in that book, I think. I hope I fooled them!

The fame of the American writer Philip Roth (1933-2018) rested on the frank explorations of Jewish-American life he portrayed in his novels. There is a strong autobiographical element in much of what he wrote, alongside social commentary and political satire. Despite often polarising critics with his frequently explicit accounts of his male protagonists' sexual doings, Roth received a great many prestigious literary awards which include a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1997, and the 4th Man Booker International Prize in 2011.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: London, The Counterlife, Zuckerman

Duration: 3 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013