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5 March 1987
The Counterlife 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 336 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 224 02871 5
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... PhilipRoth’s new novel is marvellously rich, boisterously serious, dense, fizzing and formally audacious. More than with most novels, to review it is to betray it. This isn’t inappropriate, since one of ...
5 March 1987
... Many critics and reviewers persist in writing about Roth rather than his fiction. Why this persistence after all these years?If that’s so, it may have to do with the intensity with which my fiction has focused upon the self-revealing dilemmas of a single ...

Nicely! Nicely!

Jenny Turner

13 May 1993
Operation Shylock 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 398 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 224 03009 4
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... If you are anything like me, you will find yourself having to fight off a sort of sinking feeling as the new PhilipRoth comes thudding into your life. What If A Lookalike Stranger Stole Your Name, Usurped Your Biography, And Went Around The World Pretending To Be You? the jacket flap blares: oh God help us, here we go ...
23 October 1986
... however, it is an advantage to belong to a (not necessarily racial) minority. In other words, it can prove useful not to be pure. If I may return to the question: don’t you feel yourself, you PhilipRoth, ‘rooted’ in your country, and at the same time ‘a mustard grain’? In your books I perceive a sharp mustard flavour. I think this is the meaning of your quotation from Arnaldo Momigliano ...

‘OK, holy man, try this

Ian Hamilton: The Hypothetical Philip Roth

22 June 2000
The Human Stain 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 361 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 0 224 06090 2
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... PhilipRoth likes, or has liked, to describe himself as a ‘suppositional’ novelist. Much of his writing practice, he has said, takes off from a ‘what if?’ What if Franz Kafka had made it to America and ...
17 March 1988
... Aharon Appelfeld lives a few miles west of Jerusalem in a maze-like conglomeration of attractive stone dwellings directly next to an ‘absorption centre’, where immigrants are temporarily housed, schooled and prepared for life in their new society. The arduous journey that landed Appelfeld on the beaches of Tel Aviv in 1946, at the age of 14, seems to have fostered an unappeasable fascination with ...
6 December 1979
The Ghost Writer 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 180 pp., £4.95
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... The Ghost Writer is PhilipRoth’s best novel yet. Certainly it is his most ingenious. But this familiar way of putting things may contain a mistake, a mistake which is part of the subject-matter of Roth’s book. ‘Best novel yet’ implies a future of prosperous activity which may be barmecidal. The novelist-hero of Henry James’s story ‘The Middle Years’ is amused by the view that his latest ...

Just Folks

Michael Wood: Philip Roth’s counter-historical bestseller

4 November 2004
The Plot against America 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 391 pp., £16.99, September 2004, 0 224 07453 9
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... Because what’s history?’ a character asks rhetorically in PhilipRoth’s astonishing new novel. ‘History is everything that happens everywhere. Even here in Newark. Even here on Summit Avenue.’ And is history also what people are afraid of, even on Summit Avenue ...

Two Poems

Frederick Seidel

11 April 2013
... Here’s what. Here’s who needs to be made up. Here’s who I would do. The make-up artist is hard at work in the Oval Office. The fireplace fire is lit with the air-conditioning on full blast. To PhilipRoth, for His Eightieth I’m Mussolini, And the woman spread out on my enormous Duce desk looks teeny. The desk becomes an altar, sacred. The woman’s naked. I call the woman teeny only because I ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth

23 January 2014
Roth​ Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia Roth​ Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... Claudia Roth Pierpont met PhilipRoth at a birthday party in 2002. She was a fan, but managed not to alienate him with clumsy enthusiasm. A couple of years later he sent her a photocopy of a newspaper article he thought she might be ...

What the hell happened?

Alexander Star: Philip Roth

4 February 1999
I Married a Communist 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 323 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 224 05258 6
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... Some time ago, PhilipRoth remarked that his novels investigate ‘people in trouble’. Though much about his work has changed over the years, his fictional landscapes are still littered with human wreckage. Rage and lust ...

Dirty Jokes

Julian Symons

13 September 1990
Brief Lives 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 217 pp., £12.95, August 1990, 0 224 02747 6
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by Philip Roth.
Cape, 208 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 224 03000 0
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by Seth Morgan.
Chatto, 390 pp., £12.95, August 1990, 0 7011 3664 2
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... book is a reflection of Fay’s when she has called off a meeting with Charlie: ‘One pays too dearly for love.’ If Brookner writes about men as a species to be examined rather than understood, PhilipRoth’s women are hardly more than receptacles for semen, emotional punching-bags or ministering angels. The fact that his novels have only one subject, PhilipRoth, is made plainer than ever by ...


D.A.N. Jones

21 November 1985
The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... Security is the problem that exercises both PhilipRoth and Raymond Williams. The sort of ‘security’ I mean is the sort that spreads a feeling of insecurity – a fear of surveillance, bugging, secret cameras, interrogation, the false smile of Mr Nice ...

I am disorder

Michael Wood

19 October 1995
Sabbath’s Theater 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 451 pp., £15.99, October 1995, 0 224 03814 1
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... Portnoy complained that his life was a Jewish joke, and PhilipRoth himself once suggested that American reality beggared the imagination of even the most extravagant novelist. Who could have invented Eisenhower, he asked, and no sooner had he invented a caricature ...
3 July 1997
American Pastoral 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 423 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 224 05000 1
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... the seemingly bland fare of Raymond Carver’s fiction, offered in full awareness that the reader will sit down at table with his own salt and pepper. It is not, however, a technique I associate with PhilipRoth. Roth’s preferred method has been to bombard the reader with sensory and intellectual stimuli, a gouache painted so stridently that at times it appears to be held in place only by the ...

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