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The Plot Against America


'It's hard to remember all these books!'
Philip Roth Writer
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At the dawn of the new century I kind of changed gears, not because of the new century but just because of my writing energy, I guess — my writing interest — and I began to write a series of short books — why, I don't know. I... I remember that Saul Bellow, who was a friend for years, near the end of his life began to write these short books called The Actual, and The Bellarosa Connection, and so on, and I said to him, 'How do you do it? How do you do it?' He just laughed, Saul would laugh and that would be it, but I wondered, how do you do it? I had written some shorter books, but I'd been writing these long books for so... for over a decade now, beginning with Operation Shylock and ending with The Human Stain; and I thought, how do you pack a punch in... in a third of the pages? I know how you do it in a... in a novel, because there's the power of the... the power of the amplification provides you with the punch, you know, but when... when you're reducing and reducing, how do you do it?

So I thought I would try it.  And before I tried it, however, I'm leaving out one book, I think, and that is The Plot Against America. It's hard to remember all these books, it's easier to write them – The Plot Against America

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 Actual, The Bellarosa Connection, Operation Shylock, The Human Stain, The Plot Against America, Saul Bellow

Duration: 2 minutes, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013