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Operation Shylock: A Confession Audio Cassette – Apr 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Dove Entertainment Inc (April 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558007954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558007956
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 10.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 17 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.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the second Philip Roth book that I have read in which the author himself is a main character. In the other one, Patrimony, Roth came across as a humble, compassionate, good-natured human being. In this one, he comes across as an egomaniacal, paranoid, self-aggrandizing jerk. I've read more than a half dozen of his novels, and I consider him to be the best American writer alive today, so the bitter taste that I was left with after reading this book likely won't last long and won't tarnish my overall impression of him as a writer. But still, I have to wonder how much of the character of Roth in this book is fiction, and how much of it is true. Despite its pretense of being a true confession, this book is obviously a work of fiction, so one could conclude that the character of Roth is just that - a character and nothing more. But to dismiss without further exploration would be to oversimplify it. After all, this is Roth writing about Roth, and surely he made this a first-person account for a reason. Obviously he wanted to use this writer-as-character technique as a mechanism for conveying his personal opinions. And on top of that, he creates another character of the exact same name and similar in appearance to serve as a foil or alter ego. Neither character, unfortunately, comes across as sympathetic - one on purpose, but not the other. The Roth who narrates this book is cruel, selfish, self-centered, and immature. I lost count of how many times the character commented on his quest for the Nobel Prize - always in a facetious, backhanded sort of way to make it seem like it wasn't a big deal to him.
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.
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Format: Paperback
What makes Roth so special? While so many other aging writers resort to rehashing older themes, descend into old fogey sentimentality, or simply fade away altogether, Roth only gets stronger. Stronger and more assured in his style and stronger in the subjects he tackles. "Operation Shylock" finds Roth once again challenging the reader's perceptions about fiction and non-fiction. The challenge lies in not letting the distinction distract you from the brilliant story that unfolds. Roth is on top of his game in every respect, from the cat and mouse games of the various "Philip Roths" to the wonderfully varied supporting cast of characters. Roth's narration, like Zuckerman's in recent years, is an orgy of hilarious speculation and theorizing...trying to work out every possible thread of a situation, the processes of a hyperactive mind laid out before the reader. If you don't like it, then you don't like it, and you probably don't like Roth. If you haven't read him before, and the basic plot interests you, this may be a good place to start. "American Pastoral" was great, "The Human Stain" even better, but I feel "Operation Shylock" ranks with "The Counterlife" as his best work. Very highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Roth is the undefeated (probably undefeatable) champion of literary experimentation, and Operation Shylock is perhaps his most successful, most outrageous experiment to date. The author-as-character, fact-as-fiction-as-fact motif has been done before, but rarely with such skill and never with such hilarious results. It's part international espionage, part political commentary, part cultural exposition, part farce, and all parody; Roth's egotistical, though often self-depracating voice keeps the story chugging powerfully along. Par usual, Roth's greatest zinger of all is saved for the last few pages. I would award Shylock five stars, if it were not for the fact that I simply can't (and never have been able to) get used to his hyperbolic style--all the ranting and raving and melodrama can occasionally be tiresome. But one doesn't normally read Roth for his elegant prose; one reads him for his ingenuity, his outrageousness, and his courage. And in this regard, Shylock certainly will not disappoint.
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Format: Paperback
Philip Roth's novel "Operation Shylock" presents a two-sided controversial discussion about the justification of the existence of the state of Israel. The protagonist is Roth himself, who has just overcome a period of Halcion-induced depression and is preparing to fly to Israel on a journalistic assignment to interview a Holocaust-surviving author. Coinciding with this event is the trial of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian American citizen extradited to Israel, who is alleged to have been a sadistic SS guard branded Ivan the Terrible at the Treblinka death camp during World War II.
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.
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