Operation Shylock: A Confession Audio Cassette – Apr 1993
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Philip Roth's very literary novels, most famously Portnoy's Complaint, have always had the feel of confessional autobiography. Operation Shylock boasts not only a character named Philip Roth, a Jewish-American novelist, but an impostor who is claiming to be him. Roth's impostor causes a furor in Israel by advocating "Diasporism," the polar opposite of Zionism, encouraging Israelis to return home to eastern Europe. In Israel the real Roth attends the trial of a former Nazi, and also observes at a West Bank military court dealing harshly with young Palestinians. Through stark counterpoint between distorted doubles, along with his trademark bawdy humor, Roth comically explores the tensions of his identity as a writer, as a Jew, and as a human being. Operation Shylock won the PEN/Faulkner Award for 1994. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In yet another audacious spin on the doppelganger theme, Roth's dazzling, maddening and brilliant new novel offers two characters that bear his name: one a famous author called Philip Roth, the other an impostor who brazenly impersonates the "real" Philip Roth. Convinced that Israel will be destroyed by the Arab nations, the pretender has assumed Roth's identity in order to publicize his scheme to establish a new diaspora that will lead Jews out of Israel and back to their pre-Holocaust cultural roots in Europe. Roth's familiar tactic of fictionalizing the truth, such as it is, has the reader continually on edge, wondering what here is based on fact and what is "the sacrosanct prank of artistic transubstantiation." The novel is set in Jerusalem during the trial of John Demjanjuk (who claimed he was not Ivan the Terrible, but merely a man who resembled the sadistic concentration-camp guard). Roth also refers to the trial of Shakespeare's Shylock, whose name the narrator gives to what he concludes is an Israeli intelligence operation that has manipulated the series of bizarre experiences in which he finds himself. Other actual figures represented in the story include Aharon Appelfeld (whose interview with the author is reprinted from the original in the New York Times Book Review ), Jonathan Pollard (accused of spying for Israel) and Leon Klinghoffer (the victim of the Achille Lauro highjacking). Among the fictional characters, there's a nurse called Wanda Jane "Jinx" Possesski, whose two-sided personality matches her name; and handicapped Mr. Smilesburger, who is definitely not what he seems. The plot is like a house of mirrors; the narrator and his fraudulent twin impersonate each other with dizzying speed, which allows Roth to present the reverse side of every argument his characters make. He deliberately courts shock value: the events he depicts are both comical and horrible, often simultaneously; his characters' views are extremist and even bizarre. But Roth is dead serious. He leads readers through the absurdist plot with an impassioned argument about the eternal issue of the Jew in a largely Christian culture. Ingenious and provocative, this novel marks yet another achievement for a writer whose stock in trade is taking risks.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
My other main criticism of this book - and I think I'm allowed to write this since one side of my family is Jewish - is that this book is too, um, Jewish.Read more ›
Just before making his trip, Roth hears that somebody in Israel is using his name to promote a new Diaspora, imploring the Ashkenazi Jews to return to Europe to reclaim their cultural heritage. Once in Israel, it's not long before he encounters his impersonator after attending a session of Demjanjuk's trial. The impersonator tells Roth that he is a private detective from Chicago and that he runs a counseling service to "cure" anti-Semites, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in its purpose. Accompanying him in Israel is his girlfriend and a former anti-Semite, a confused American woman with a checkered past, who was his nurse when he was a cancer patient.
Roth's impersonator sees himself as the influential equal and ideological opposite of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism. He advocates Diasporism because he fears that the state of Israel is perceived by the world as Jewish tyranny over Arabs and will lead to a second Holocaust. How the real Roth reacts to this premise develops the rest of the novel, which, as the title implies, shapes itself into a subtle spy story. Some interesting supporting characters are introduced to contribute to the debate and clever plot devices are employed for intrigue.
Most recent customer reviews
I loved this book! Perhaps, I award it five stars because I "read" the audio version. I imagine it could be a tedious read. Read morePublished on March 18 2002 by Rosemary Bannon Tyksinski
Exploring every conceivable aspect of identity -- of the self, and of the state of Israel -- this novel is a tour de force. Read morePublished on May 19 2001
Amazing.... Philip Roth has pulled off the unthinkable. He writes a book with no ending and he gets away with it. He not only gets away with it, he does it with style. Read morePublished on July 31 2000
Another good effort from Roth, but not his best by any means. The narrative technique is, like many of Roth's novels, clever and well executed. Read morePublished on July 1 2000 by Sara
Philip roth has been touted as a great writer.I must admit, i was curious and bought this book in an effort to validate what others say. Read morePublished on Nov. 13 1999
Boring, slow moving plot. Too much discussion of the Jewish Diaspora, Zionism, and Demjanjuk. I couldn't finish this book fast enough. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 1999
My introduction to Philip Roth was Portnoy's Complaint. A wonderful book and a wonderful introduction. I am a huge fan of Roth. He is my favorite author. Read morePublished on Sept. 7 1999