A panoramic and accessible guide to one of the most celebrated—and controversial—authors of the 20th century
Philip Roth was one of the most prominent, controversial, and prolific American writers of his generation. By the time of his death in 2018, he had won the Pulitzer Prize, two National Book Awards, and three PEN/Faulkner Awards. In “Understanding Philip Roth“, Matthew Shipe provides a brief biographical sketch followed by an illuminating and accessible reading of Roth’s novels, illustrating how the writer constructed one of the richest bodies of work in American letters, capturing the absurdities, contradictions, and turmoil that shaped the United States in the six decades following the Second World War.
Questions of Jewish American identity, the irrationality of male sexual desire, the nature of the American experiment—these are a few of the central concerns that run throughout Roth’s oeuvre, and across which his early and late novels speak to one another. Moreover, Shipe considers how Roth’s fiction engaged with its historical moment, providing a broader context for understanding how his novels address the changes that transformed American culture during his lifetime.