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Israel and Operation Shylock


'Deception' and 'Operation Shylock'
Philip Roth Writer
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I wrote a little book about adultery called Deception, and this… it's just the two adulterers talking and they talk from beginning to end about… and what interested me was the portrait of the woman – young and married and unhappy – and there it is. It was a slight book really, accurate, however, I think. And then after Deception, I believe I wrote a big book called Operation Shylock and there I cut loose rather as I had back in The Great American Novel, the baseball book, but now about something more serious, but I was advancing, I think, with that robust free wheelingness that I'd had... I'd had in The Counterlife.

The… lots of Operation Shylock takes place in Israel and was based to a large degree on observation and experience, that is in about 19… sometime in there in the '80s I began to visit Israel. I had a few friends – one, the writer, Aharon Appelfeld, the other the writer, Amos Elon, and through Amos, particularly, and Aharon, I met other people and I began to talk to them about what was going on. No one ever… no one hesitates to tell you in Israel, you don't have to beg for information or for... for an attitude, so I got all kinds of voices, and voices on the left, voices on the right, voices full of contempt for the Arabs, voices full of contempt for Israel and so on.

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: The Great American Novel, The Counterlife, Israel, Aharon Appelfeld, Amos Elon

Duration: 2 minutes, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013