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Divine Roth

Is Philip Roth the greatest of living American novelists?

By Jason Cowley   July 2001

In 1993 Philip Roth published Operation Shylock: a confession, a hysterical exploration of the disintegrating self. No writer had been more adept at exploiting postmodern ideas of the instability of the self and the slippage between autobiography and fiction, but this time it seemed as though Roth had reached a terminus, the point at which his stylised self-obsession had become a poetics of despair. As John Updike wrote, “this cultivation of hypothetical selves has become an end game.”

At the time of the publication of Shylock there was talk of Roth having suffered a breakdown and the novel reads as…

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