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Operation Shylock: A Confession [Audio Cassette]

Philip Roth , Fritz Weaver
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

From Library Journal

The drama of Jewish survival takes a new twist in this novel, but Rothean ideas persist: all humans make fiction, man betrays and fulfills his father's dream; an artist's doubt is his integrity; Jews test freedom (in the West from exclusion and prejudice, in Israel from temptations of power); embattled Israel dramatizes the nationalisms that drive history, with the Holocaust their persistent threat. Here, through a pseudo-autobiographical escapade in intifada Israel during the "Ivan the Terrible" trial, a writer confronts his double. Playing off recent autobiography, Roth gives his fictive protagonist, "Philip Roth," the author's known career. Led into Mossad intrigue to defend Jewish security and his writer's integrity, this "Roth" chews the cud of these tortuous themes and is at times as baffled as Kafka's K. Using "Philip Roth" as an irritant to thought, Roth will make some readers steam. By midway he is telegraphing his punches, and his sparkling absurdity dissolves in perseveration. Recommended for public libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/92; Roth reported in the New York Times , March 9, 1993, that all events depicted in this book are in fact true but that the Mossad insisted that he bill it as fiction.--Ed.
- Alan Cooper, York Coll. , CUNY
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Roth has worked out so frequently and acrobatically with fictional versions of himself that his entanglement here with a doppelg„nger insisting that he's Philip Roth--a double whose visionary ``diasporism'' gets the hapless narrator tied up in plots engineered by the Mossad, the PLO, and God knows who else- -is as logical as it is frenetically funny. Arriving in Jerusalem just after a hallucinatory withdrawal from Halcion, Roth is comically vulnerable to the double who's using his striking resemblance to the novelist to curry favor and raise money for his reverse-Zionist project: to return all Ashkenazic Jews from Israel, where fundamentalist Muslims threaten them with extinction, to the relatively benign cities of Europe. When Roth threatens legal action against the double, whom he christens Moishe Pipik, Pipik sends opulent, dyslexic Chicago oncology nurse Wanda Jane ``Jinx'' Possesski, a charter member of Pipik's Anti-Semites Anonymous, to intercede for him. Roth, falling in lust with this latest shiksa, finds himself slipping into Pipik's identity, spouting off diasporist speeches, and unwittingly accepting a million-dollar check for the diasporist cause from crippled philanthropist Louis B. Smilesburger. A zany ride back to Jerusalem from Ramallah, where he's incidentally delivered a loony, impassioned anti-Zionist tirade, ends with Roth rescued by a young lieutenant seeking a letter of recommendation to NYU, and the check lost or stolen. As he takes in the Israeli trial of John Demjanjuk, Roth ponders Pipik's insistence that ``I AM THE YOU THAT IS NOT WORDS'' and, under challenge from every side, questions his notorious Jewish self- hatred. Still ahead: antiquarian David Supposnik's request that Roth write an introduction to Leon Klinghoffer's recently discovered travel diaries, Roth's kidnapping, and his agreeing to undertake a secret mission in Athens for the Mossad. A deliberately anticlimactic epilogue substitutes for the final chapter that would have described the secret mission. No matter: rarely have fact and fiction, personal confession and wild imaginings, led such a deeply, unnervingly comic dance. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"One of Roth's grand inventions.... [He is] a comic genius...a living master." —Harold Bloom, The New York Review of Books

"The uncontested master of comic irony." —Time magazine

"A devilish book, nervously exuding a kind of delirious brilliance like sweat at every pore, and madly comic." —Alfred Kazin

"A brilliant novel of ideas...Roth has gone farther into his own genius than he ever has before." —Ted Solotaroff, The Nation --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"One of Roth's grand inventions.... [He is] a comic genius...a living master." —Harold Bloom, The New York Review of Books

"The uncontested master of comic irony." —Time magazine

"A devilish book, nervously exuding a kind of delirious brilliance like sweat at every pore, and madly comic." —Alfred Kazin

"A brilliant novel of ideas...Roth has gone farther into his own genius than he ever has before." —Ted Solotaroff, The Nation --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians’ Prize for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004.” Recently Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

Philip Roth plunges into high-stakes intrigue when confronted with a look-alike who uses the author's celebrity status for outlandish political purposes. Roth may out-talk, outwit and even out-impersonate the impostor, but his own fears and fascinations are harder to fight. The weapon of choice is an irresistible mastery of language, and it is wielded mightily by Fritz Weaver. Somehow he contains it in a fountain of crisp and impassioned elocution. His sonorous voice and obvious care and preparation infuse each line with credibility. Seemingly rapt with the intelligence and wit of what he's saying, Weaver nails every nuance of pace, accent and mood. His energy and vulnerability convincingly capture Roth's complex spirit. D.J. An AUDIOFILE Earphones Award winner (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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